Mental illness and vocation


I have Schizoaffective Disorder. Will any religious order accept me?


I will say that in most cases they would not unless your condition were well controled and documented by a Dr. and a priest. There is justifcation in tha,t as most meds. are expensive and that you would be living in community. Community life can be very stressfull, esp. for some one new…“just starting.” That being said, this not a difinative answer. Keep checking.


Some may, others not. It will depend on which order you apply to and what your doctor says.


Generally, the answer is no. But there are some that might, you would have to ask communities specifically to see if there are options for you still.

While a blanket ‘no’ might seem harsh, it is with good reason. Religious life is not easy and has many difficulties. One who is not in good mental health may simply not be able to cope with it. Also to consider is the cost of medication, it is often expensive and that is a large financial burden on a community.


See that’s what I thought. Its rough being mentally ill because you are so limited by what you can do. I feel the call to the religious life and I would like to devote myself to it, however, my disability controls so much of my everyday life that I agree it would be stressfull and I probably wouldn’t fit in due to my condition.


Yea, maybe it’s just best if I live like I’m a religious by myself. Maybe that is what God wants for me, to live like a hermit.


Perhaps you are misunderstanding your call. Part of a vocation is the ability to actually lead that life. I don’t mean that to be as dismissive as it must sound but I can’t think of another way to put it. I suppose just remember that discernment is a process and we often come out of it with completely different results to the ones we were expecting.

A lot of people here have posted about Third Orders and Oblates (just look through the Vocations forum, there are loads of them), perhaps that is something you should discern. Maybe that is where God is calling you - you still have that connection to religious life and a community while remaining a layperson.


That is a possibility. However, I have serious mental issues and physical problems. I’m of no use to anyone. I don’t know what I was thinking to become a monk with my condition. I try to emulate a monk in my daily life and in my prayer. I will think about what you mentioned and try to figure out my life.


[quote="Sacred_Heart, post:8, topic:268507"]
That is a possibility. However, I have serious mental issues and physical problems. I'm of no use to anyone. I don't know what I was thinking to become a monk with my condition. I try to emulate a monk in my daily life and in my prayer. I will think about what you mentioned and try to figure out my life.


You are of use to God! Just because there is a vocation you cannot enter does not mean it's the end of the world and there are not other paths you can follow. We are all called to holiness and God calls us to the path that will bring us to that holiness. Don't be discouraged, our limitations are nothing to be ashamed of, they are part of our human condition.

Open yourself to God's will. Surrender your will to Him and let Him guide you. He will show you the way. It sounds cliche but it's true. Try not to go into it with an idea of what God's will is because it may influence you unduly, just open yourself to whatever God calls you to.

Becoming a monk is not the only path out there. You could do great work in the Church as a lay single person and as I suggested before Third Orders and Oblates could provide you with that connection to religious life you seek.

You are in my prayers.


I often have felt that way through my life, having been mentally ill since I was a child and now having physical impairments. Guess what? You, and possibly even I, are of inestimable value to God. Let’s talk about you. You have a very difficult to treat disorder. You have had your “power” in life taken away, including physically. What did Jesus say? “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

But you can write. You can be online. You can pray. You might, if you can get out sometimes, be able to join a third order. You might even start one. Maybe something online. We were talking about online fraternity in the Saint Francis thread. There is a fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order for those in prison. It’s a national fraternity, as I understand it. Why shouldn’t there be one for the disabled?

Here’s what we have to do: stop focusing on what we cannot do and start focusing on what we can do. There is no tool more powerful than prayer and no witness more powerful than faith in the face of hardship.

The problem with being mentally ill is we spend so much time thinking about ourselves. ugh It gets very tiring after a few decades. What happens if we start thinking about others? How much comfort can you bring people right here on these forums through encouragement, understanding, inspiration and prayer?

You have no idea what God has in Mind for you.


Greetings Sacred_Heart,

I don’t know what your vocation is, but this I do know that God is calling you to a deeper and closer Union with Him. My friend, do you have a spiritual director? I believe it would be helpful for you to have one. If you do not have one, ask your parish priest who he would recommend. My counsel is to get a priest who is 100% beliving and practicing what the Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches.

God Bless.
Anathama Sit


I don’t know of any men’s orders that would be open to someone with mental illness, but I do know of two women’s order who are, so it IS possible that there is one out there. However, I want to urge you to err on the side of caution. I have depression and anxiety which I was diagnosed with at 16. I am now 28. I was discerning religious life for 4 years and met only those two orders. It was very difficult hearing “no” because I had the mindset of being rejected each time. I don’t think that way anymore. I think of it as being God telling me I’m not called to that life. I have discerned that I am no longer called to look into religious life. But I do believe that I was called to look with good reason. I have a strong belief that God might call my future child (or children) into religious life or the priesthood if I get married and my experiences will better prepare them for their own journey. If you hear “no,” don’t be discouraged. God has a plan for you. :slight_smile:

Also, if religious life or the priesthood is not an option, I would urge you to consider Consecrated Single Life in a secular institute. You are still able to live in the world and in your own residence, but you are committed to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience (the same vows a religious takes).

You might also consider Third Orders such as the Franciscans or another spirituality that appeals to you. Married and singles are a part of such groups. :slight_smile:


Thank you so very much for posting here.

Thank you Sacred_Heart for starting the thread and not giving up. See? You aren’t even a little worthless.

Thank you all my Franciscans.


Hello. I, too, have schizoeffective disorder. It went undiagnosed for years and I self medicated leading to many addictions. Long story short, I can completely relate to Sacred_Heart’s quandry. I have often considered becoming a friar. I even consulted my Priest about it. He said to see how my meds go and it will always be there for me. I have a 5 year old daughter so its not practical to run off to a religious life. Like has been replied here, we can do many things to enhance our closeness to Christ being a laysperson. I find all kind of different ways to get involved. I manage my illness and addictions well with help from Christ. Like Father said, it will always be there and maybe something for me down the road. I could def see myself in a monastary in my last years. Well see. Thanks for all the suggestions and thank you Sacred_Heart for starting the thread. God Bless you all. -Michael


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