Looking after family as a nun


I’m just wondering if there are any nuns or other religious who could answer this for me… what happens if you become a nun, give up all your money, and then later in life your parents fall ill and need someone to look after them? Do you just have to rely on other siblings? Would the religious order give you the free time to look after them? What about the money it would cost to care for them?

I’m discerning my own vocation and this question troubles me.

God bless


Sorry for cross-posting, I tried to delete the other entry but I can't for some reason.


I knew a Franciscan Sister who was released from her community to care for her sick frail, elderly parents. She moved into her parents home, took over their finances, made medical decisions, etc. The order provided a stipend for her, she continued to do her apostolate and bring income into the community (She did retreats and Spiritual Direction and hired paid help to assist with her parents care). The parents had income (Social Security/Pensions). My understanding was that she was dispensed from her obligation to community life, until she no longer needed to care for her parents, at which time she would return to community life. For her, it was a difficult cross she accepted, the community felt she was obligated to see to her parents care. She was the only person available to do this task. I believe her community was the Franciscan Sisters of Loretto.


Thank you so much ClayPots47. I'm guessing the stipend was small but enough to cover her own meals and that sort of thing?



When my husband's grandmother was no longer able to stay alone and care for herself, her only daughter, a Dominican Sister, moved in with her and cared for her until she passed. She did have a living allowance for her personal needs. After she passed, Sister went back to live in the community. Often the Sisters would drive down to visit her.
By this time Sis was retired and no longer working (she had been a teacher, principal, and other things) so she could spared more easily.

However, I don't really know what Nuns (those living in cloisters) are allowed to do, whether they can leave the cloister or not.


Thank you CB Catholic! I'm interested in active orders so your experience is very helpful.

God bless!


My aunt is a sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1994 / 1995 she took a sabbatical to care for my grandparents. After they passed away she went back to live with her community. I don’t know if she had a stipend but I would guess she did.


I went to school at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where the sisters are in the School Sisters of Notre Dame, a teaching order with many schools around the country and probably around the world, since their origins are in France.

Back in the late 80's / early 90's, I had a teacher who left campus every day to go to her mother's apartment in town to help her bathe, dress, fix meals, administer medications, etc. until her mother died. I don't know if her mother ever needed round-the-clock care or if she had any brothers or sisters to share in her mother's care, but she was certainly very active in her mother's care even without living with her. My teacher, the religious sister, lived in community on campus as far as I could tell.

If I may add, since you say you are discerning your vocation, maybe you should trust in God that He will work things out for you and your parents both? Easier said than done, I know. Isn't there a Gospel story about a young man wanting to follow Jesus, but saying, "Let me bury my parents first," and Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead. Come and follow Me." By all means, discuss this concern with your vocation directors, and ask what arrangements their order makes for this situation. Maybe their answers would lean you more to one order over another?

Best wishes,


Our oldest daughter is in a religious order that takes care of the elderly poor. If either my husband or I were to become ill, she would come home and take care of us. Sometimes, the parent of a sister in this order will live in the home for the elderly where her daughter is working.

In case you’re wondering, the order is the Little Sisters of the Poor.

God bless you in your discernment!


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