Major depressive disorder and friarhood


I am 18, and after college I’d like to become a Franciscan friar. I have major depressive disorder with psychotic features (The psychotic features are very minor - you wouldn’t be able to tell if you knew me because they’re mostly hallucinations).

My condition is medically controlled and I’m in therapy.

I really want to go out and spread the gospel and help people. I have been through a whole lot with this condition. I understand the darkest depths of human experience, and I want to help Christians with similar conditions.

Do you think I have a chance of being accepted? Do they do interviews and such?

Thank you


It would depend on the order. Medical issues are sometimes factors for disqualifying one from entering religious life. If you think you may be called to a religious vocation, then you should meet with your priest and ask him to recommend a spiritual director.


It is important to note that some orders also have lay groups so that are dedicated towards the laity which could also be another avenue for you.

Furthermore, even if the group you seek doesn’t have a lay group, or god forbid you aren’t accepted, it doesn’t mean you are aren’t called to serve God. The world needs godly people to reach out to them so who knows, perhaps down the road, you could be called to help others with similar disorders as you. This disorder gives you some common ground so never underestimate what you cannot do.


A persons life experiences, struggles, pain… can help one to become more empathetic, compassionate…and so in that way, the particular suffering one has gone through can be of benefit when called to serve others.

May God bless you in your journey!
Blessings, LoveMercyGrace


The only way to know is to inquire with specific orders. Good luck!


It will depend on the order, but many (if not most) orders will have some type of psychological evaluation. This is to determine a candidate’s suitability and if any psychological issues would interfere with communal life. The cost of any meds and ongoing counseling would also likely factor into the decision. Remember that the community would be responsible for your care so they would need to make sure they can take care of you properly.

Since you mention you are getting ready to go to college also remember that you will have to pay off any student loans and other debts before you can enter an order. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.

As others have said, see about talking to the directors of formation in the orders you are interested in. I’d just be honest so that you can lay out a plan based more on facts rather than assumptions.


Every order will have one. :smiley:

It would depend on how it effects your relation to others in community. To be honest, the Franciscans would probably work with you on it, especially if you can distinguish what is and isn’t hallucination.

Like others have said, you won’t know until you ask. :thumbsup:


I expected as much, but figured the second I made an absolute statement, someone would seek to prove me wrong. All those rules about absolutes in logic and debate kicking in. :smiley:

I know just to apply to the permanent diaconate in my diocese required a half day psych eval so I would expect in a community setting it would be as much if not more.


A slight derail, but we had a permanent deacon (who never married) enter into priestly formation. He had to re-take the psych, even with it being the same diocese. :rolleyes:


It’s only fair. I’m sure being a deacon can loosen a few screws after several years. :smiley:


I agree with what the others say. If you can distinguish hallucination from reality and are able to handle MDD in a communal setting then you may be just fine. Keep in mind, however, that no matter what you’ve faced so far, the devil is gonna get pissed if you try to become a religious. He’ll be all over you possibly until the final minute you make your vows, so if you get accepted into an order be prepared for some extra and unexpected turbulence. That slimeball is pretty sneaky so make sure you have good spiritual direction the whole time because mental disorders can put people at a slight disadvantage in some fights (same as a bad knee would hinder a physical warrior).


You’ve received many very good replies. I’ll share a few thoughts from a different perspective.

I was in a somewhat similar situation. Although my most serious symptom was not psychiatric in nature, I also had mood or psych difficulties. This kept me from becoming a priest even though I had been a good student in the seminary and had been surprisingly happy and fulfilled during those years. I recently posted a summary in a different discussion.

Please be honest with the doctors and vocation directors. It is important that you get a good decision. You should not presume what that should be. Be open to God’s will. Recall Mary’s advise to the servant at Cana–cf Jn 2.

In some parts of the world there was a scandal where priests acted very immorally with youth. I wonder how many of them had poorly treated developing mental struggles as contributing factors in their abhorrent behavior. We need healthy priests and religious.

Do your doctors have any idea what is causing the health problems–head injury during car accident, result of a disease or toxin, food sensitivities, a combination of factors including a genetic predisposition?

If someone had asked me that question in the early years I had been sick, my heavy metal problem might have been diagnosed a decade earlier and I probably would have been young enough to return to the seminary.

The doctor whose tip led to the discovery of my heavy metal (HM) problem describes the list of symptoms that were disabling him as a young doctor. He writes that he went to ten other doctors before someone realized HMs were involved in his problems. Now he is a successful author and public speaker.

As Dr Hyman explains in the following talk, depression can have many underlying causes or contributing factors.

One of those can be HMs. You’ll see symptoms lists under the 1000+ hair tests from members of HM detox groups. Notice from the lists and from Dr Hyman’s experience there will be a list of seemingly unrelated symptoms when HMs are involved. Mood problems are usually involved.

I followed the case of this 60 yr old man for several years in a detox support group. He is now a semi retired medical professional but was previously hospitalized for psych problems and lost his job. His recovery is unusual but a good example of someone who did not give up. He continued to look for better answers. He was later hired back to his old job and got a semi promotion.

Remember doctors are sometimes limited by insurance companies, medical boards and financial pressures. As you heard from Dr Hyman, they might not mention all possible causes for your symptoms. If your insurance company is paying for a 15 minute visit and some medication, that is what you are likely to receive. I’m not bashing doctors, however, I’d be foolish to ignore the factors that influence their recommendations. I wish I learned this a decade earlier.

I’m not pretending to diagnose your medical problems! I am providing leads and especially encouraging you to look for better answers. If your vocation is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Your life is a gift from God. Do your best to care for it so you can give God glory and share your gifts in the ways God intends for you




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