Questions about Religious Life


#1

Hello there. I’ve been contemplating the priesthood and am deciding whether or not to join a religious order. There are some questions I have and hopefully somebody can answer.

  1. If I am in a religious order (Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines) and I take a vow of poverty, do I have to pay taxes? How would I? I wouldn’t have any money!

  2. If I am in a religious order, can I get money or something like that in cards from my parents and family and get to keep it, or do I have to give it to the house I live in?

  3. Would I be able to own my own things like a computer or some books and stuff. Obviously I would have my own toothbrush and toiletries, but is there other things that I would not be allowed to own; a car perhaps?

These are just some things that seem like reasonable questions to ask and I was just curious. If anybody knows, please let me know!

God bless and Merry Christmas


#2

Religious don’t file tax returns. Of course you also don’t earn a salary so it all works out.

  1. If I am in a religious order, can I get money or something like that in cards from my parents and family and get to keep it, or do I have to give it to the house I live in?

Depends on the rules of the particular order. You may be given permission to keep small gifts while larger gifts would be shared with the community.

  1. Would I be able to own my own things like a computer or some books and stuff. Obviously I would have my own toothbrush and toiletries, but is there other things that I would not be allowed to own; a car perhaps?

Generally no. If you need a computer one will be provided for you, but it is not personally owned by you (though you may be the only one using it). If a car is needed one will be provided and depending on the particular needs it may be shared rather than something only you have access to.

Basically you will have what you need but you may need to request something or justify it rather than simply say “I’m buying this” or “I’m getting one of these.”


#3

In many religious orders (male and female), some or most people DO earn salaries, but they are signed over to the congregation. The individual then works with the leadership of the community on a reasonable budget, which may depend upon the apostolate. For example, a person teaching at a college or university (whether one run by his or her own congregation or not) might need to pay rent, to have a car (or money for public transportation), a computer, etc. They might also need to travel for research, professional conferences, etc. But even if they make a pretty big salary, they would have it signed over to the community and then would discern with the appropriate authorities what they need. In communities which do not wear a habit (again, male or female), this might also include an appropriate clothing budget. For example, someone teaching at a university would have to dress professionally. This wouldn’t necessarily be expensive, but it would be different from what someone would wear to work in a homeless shelter. A person who is working for a national or diocesan office, too, might need to budget travel expenses “home” several times a year (“home” being to the community, not to their family home, though vacations might also be budgeted). They would, of course, travel simply and economically…

I know several religious women and men who live their lives this way. It is not inconsistent with a vow of poverty.


#4

You’re right, of course. I was thinking of the people I know who never see a paycheck since it goes directly to the order and not to their bank accounts.


#5

Depends on where you live, as that explains how taxation works. In the United States, you would be exempt, most especially because you have no income. Taxation in the United States is based off of income.

In theory, you would give it to the order. In practice, you would probably keep it if it were a trivial sum of money (e.g. <$20).

In MOST religious orders (each one identifies poverty slightly differently), you would own nothing. You would have USE of these things, but everything would be owned by the order.


#6

would you be able to give books to the order, for everyone to use?

being a monk , sounds like a good life, but i always need books:)


#7

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