Looking to speak with women about vocations


Hey Catholic Answers,

I’m a writer working on a piece about religious and vocational life in modern day America. I’m interested in speaking with women who are thinking about or are in the process of discernment or who have recently entered a sisterhood.

The piece is for the Believer magazine. PM if you’re interested in talking.

Thank you,



All I have to say its a crying shame that there is this age barrier thing that they wont take anyone over 35, I have looked, for a traditional Order but because I am over 35 Convents wont even entertain me, they will take men to be a brother, monk, or priest over this age, but not women , I always thought you were called by name not by age , but NO Religious Orders come up with a thousand excuses not to take you.

I. Your formed in your ways ( this does not apply to the guys though)
2. Why have you waited until now, why did you not join earlier.
3. Is it I wonder that they feel they are not going to get enough work out of you, which surely is not the essential for Religious Life , but rather work, prayer, and growing in holiness

I am still looking for a Traditional Order. Habit, Prayer Life etc, and I don’t rate my chances to high. Every Convent could be full except for this very silly 35 cut off.


Hi Celtic Maiden,

You could try pathsoflove.com. They have a brief list of orders that accept older candidates.
Also, the Grey Nuns. Lexington. MA. and the Eudist Servants of the Seventh Hour accept later vocations.

Best wishes


Reread what you just wrote here… It seems like you think you have all the answers and calling a carefully discerned decision “very silly” isn’t the best way to demonstrate that you are not formed in your own ways. This whole post is about what you want and what you think. No where is there a word about discernment or God’s call… You are “looking for” a traditional order, habit, and to be accepted regardless of any other factors. It isn’t a right to enter a convent but a privilege and gift. I suggest you start realigning your thinking more with the will of God than with what you want when and how you want it. You will not get far in religious life with this perspective. God won’t call you to a place that you cannot go.

There are many reasons communities choose to place an age limit… You listed three but there are infinitely more. 1- can you imagine how difficult it would be for an older woman to have companionship in formation when all the other women are ten, fifteen, or twenty years younger? In most communities, especially traditional ones, communication with professed sisters is limited while in formation so your only “equals” would be these younger women for three or four years. Could it be the community knows that their formation would be unhealthy for an older woman? 2- a community that does a ministry that involves a college education would effectively have to delay your ability to minister for another 5 or more years while you study. You can’t study full time during the first three years of formation in most communities. Then, what happens if during your studies you realize you aren’t suited to nursing, teaching, social work…? Plus all this time you haven’t been able to live the charism of the community which is experienced partially in the work of the apostolate. 3- maybe the community already knows that in the next five years they will run out of resources to provide for their older and infirm sisters. What an injustice it would be to those already committed members and to the older woman entering that the community ignored their financial situation. What if the woman entering became ill? They would have to dismiss her in formation because they don’t have the money to pay for her medical care. Now you have no community, no job, and an illness… No community would do that to someone so they might have an age limit to try to manage this possibility. 4 - work may not seem essential to you but how do you think community’s pay for food, clothing, housing, medical care, etc? Working together in the apostolate is part of community life and the money earned there supports the sisters who are unable to work so, yes, it is important to work. It’s also part of the way one grows in holiness.

There are infinitely more reasons a community might decide to impose an age limit based on their years of experience in religious life (which you don’t have), their understanding of the community’s financial, emotional, and religious picture (which again you don’t have), and their experience with formation (which you don’t have). Communities are not in the business of creating silly rules. They make mature and thoughtful decisions for the benefit of the community.

I’m sure you will see this as a harsh response but read again what you wrote… How do you think that attitude would be received within a community? In formation? If you want to enter religious life you will need to work on this and I wouldn’t want you to continue not realizing this stumbling block. I hope you do find the place to which God is calling you and I will keep you in my prayers.


I could not improve on sisters response… I will only say that there are some orders or communities that allow older vocations but as sister said you first would have to realign your thinking … There are reasons behind the “rules” … I also would ask who helped you during your discernment process??? What is their input???

Hopefully in reading Sister Marie’s response you will find some food for thought?


Sr. Debbie OSC


there are a few orders that take over 35-the primary reason most don’t is health care cost start to rise after that -as it is 70% of religious sisters cost of living has to be covered by donations from family and other donors and the retirement fund deficit is billions-not saying that a 40-45 year old soul should be of any less value but they also won’t take you if you have student debt either. And yes the obey vow is tougher for a 45 year old than a 21 year old.


If you visit the Phatmass Vocation Station forum (phatmass.com/phorum/forum/17-vocation-station/) you will find tons of people able to help you find orders that accept women over 35. Most with that age limit will make exceptions for good candidates. But Sister is right: There are many, MANY reasons a lot of orders don’t accept women above 35 (or do only in certain cases). I know it’s frustrating to be in your position (I’m in it myself), but it’s important to see the sisters’ side of the issue.

The Visitandines do not set age limits. Most Carmels don’t either. I don’t know if you’re looking at active or contemplative life, but in both, there are plenty of houses for someone over 35 if she really is called. You just need to find the people who can help you locate them! :slight_smile:

To the OP: I work with an organization called Leonie’s Longing that serves women who have returned to the world after living in religious life. Please feel free to contact us through our website: www.leonieslonging.org

We will need to “vet” you before giving an interview, as we are often asked for interviews by people who are less than respectful to the issue of vocations and/or the Catholic Church.


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