Seeking advice and discernment


#1

To preface, I am currently talking with someone who is helping me discern as well, but extra help/opinions can't hurt! Just like to make sure God's will is what I think it is...

So my story starts like this: I was born and raised Protestant, yet I gained a faith somewhat stronger or more "real" than those around me. Went to Protestant church, school, and everything else for as long as I can remember, but with faith, I followed God to the Catholic Church and joined this Easter. I am now 17, in the Church, and aside from the many friends I have made, alone. I have no family in Catholicism or Orthodoxy of any kind...

There's my background (and if anyone wants to hear some of my experiences with God, I'll be glad to share them! I never get sick of those stories), so here's why this belongs in the vocations thread: even when I was Protestant, I felt the call of God to be a minister. Since joining the Church, "preacher" became "priest" but I still feel the call. On top of that, so far I am looking towards becoming a priest after having joined the Dominican Order in my area. This will possibly/likely happen in four years. I intend to wait the four years because (1) I am just starting college in languages, and I wish to take Latin and Greek. I feel that finishing college is not a waste of time since I am able to learn these; and (2) because I am so recently a part of the Church, I do not think I can join any Order until I've been Catholic 1-2 years. Am I wrong about that? This is simply what I've heard, so confirming that would be good, but I trust the person who told me.

What I want discernment/prayer for is four things: should i really wait the four years, should I join a religious order, should I join the Dominican Order, and should I be a priest. Because each of these is a big decision (potentially life-altering), I want to make sure that I seek all the wisdom I can about them!

Thanks!


#2

I was glad upon reading your post, not because I can give you any advice, but because I am exactly in the same situation (only four years older than you...) I came to Christianity 1.5 years ago through a Protestant group but I didn't get baptized right away; instead I was very interested in Catholicism, and I studied for a year about it and finally decided to embrace it.

However, even before I come to know Christ, my lifelong struggle is always about knowing truth and educating others with truly meaningful things about life. Though I chose to study Computer Science in my college, I always want to learn Philosophy and Morality, but this was fruitless until I met Christ.

I do feel strongly that God may be calling me to join the Dominican order. The Dominican charism, spirituality and way of living simply fit me almost perfectly. To me, even if I am a new convert, who I am and what I am longing to do never change, and are fully revealed by Catholic faith. And I know that I am not just having the "new convert fervor". I really love Catholicism and I go to daily Mass, pray the Rosary and LofH almost every day. I can feel that I have been "set apart" ... I am patiently waiting for one they when I will be consecrated for the sake of loving truth.


#3

Oh, if I may share some advice with you, I would say that please talk to the vocation director. If you are not sure about which religious order you should choose, feel free to explore a number of them :-) They shall offer come-and-see weekends, especially during the summer and the beginning of Fall semester. Dominican House of Study in Washington DC is a great place. I suggest that you attend a vocational event there. You can also go to the vocation office of your diocese to ask the director there for discernment. Anyway, make sure to talk with vocation directors, and keep in contact with them! Let them know who you are and let them help you know who you are!


#4

[quote="poptown, post:2, topic:324464"]
To me, even if I am a new convert, who I am and what I am longing to do never change, and are fully revealed by Catholic faith. \QUOTE]

Exactly, and I know that what my soul desires (joining the Dominican Order, etc) is good and will greatly benefit my walk with Christ. But that is also exactly why I must make sure that I am in the right place and with the right timing. Not that God isn't ready whenever I am, but that I make the most of everything He has given me thus far. That is why I want to understand things like "is waiting to finish college a waste of time, or is it a valuable opportunity for me to become more than what I currently am, in regards to knowledge, maturity, faith, etc?"

[/quote]


#5

Well that quote went...terribly. On another note, I doubt I will have much chance to visit, but I may try to contact my local vocational director! I'm pretty sure the main one in my "area" is in New Orleans, but I don't live anywhere close to Louisiana... That said, there is a church in my city that has Dominican connections, so I may contact them as far as the vocational director goes. Thanks for the advice!


#6

[quote="Konokaiden, post:5, topic:324464"]
Well that quote went...terribly. On another note, I doubt I will have much chance to visit, but I may try to contact my local vocational director! I'm pretty sure the main one in my "area" is in New Orleans, but I don't live anywhere close to Louisiana... That said, there is a church in my city that has Dominican connections, so I may contact them as far as the vocational director goes. Thanks for the advice!

[/quote]

I suggest that you finish college if you have already started. Actually in order to be qualified for becoming a priest in the future, you need the college degree! I am in my junior year of college. You can simply send email to the vocation office of the Southern Dominican Province. That should give you a very good start. Let's keep in touch. I would like to journey with you! :)


#7

[quote="Konokaiden, post:1, topic:324464"]
What I want discernment/prayer for is four things: should i really wait the four years, should I join a religious order, should I join the Dominican Order, and should I be a priest.

[/quote]

Each of these questions (other than the waiting) is a discernment in itself. Starting with the waiting part, you don't really have much choice since, as you note, converts are generally expected to wait a few years and, besides that, time spent in college can be beneficial in helping you discern (as can waiting - not that it ever seems like it!)

Turning to the religious order, most people who chose an order do so based on the particular character or ministry of the order, or on their personal experience of / exposure to the order. I guess in some ways this is tied into the question about priesthood but as you probably know, not all members of religious orders choose to be ordained. I think you really need to spend time with some Dominicans (or whatever other order interests you) to understand their life more and get a feel for how they live and what they do. It's important to remember that living in and being a part of a community is central to the vocation to religious life. If you're not living near a vocations "centre" the vocations director may be willing to travel to meet you, although as I said, it would be a good idea for you to visit and live in a Dominican (or other order's ) community for a short period (like a weekend or week).

With priesthood, it would be good for you to consider diocesan priesthood. I'm not saying you should chose diocesan priesthood over religious life but rather that you give it some thought. When I applied for the diocesan seminary, one question which was asked at the interview was whether I'd ever considered a religious order. Put simply, it's helpful to be aware of what paths are out there and by considering them you may well find that you begin to understand your particular calling a bit better.


#8

If there is a Dominican house anywhere near you, while you're on summer break, you might consider making a retreat there, if they offer one in the summertime. I'm not in your shoes, being a middle aged married woman, but here's a thought, too: I'd explore a variety of religious orders as well as the secular (diocesan) priesthood discernment process. It would be a real letdown if you have your heart set strictly on the Dominicans, and then decide that particular rule is not a good mix for you, and not take into account other orders, or the secular priesthood, as well.

It's a really good idea to contact your diocese's vocation director: He will have access to a lot of resources that you don't have right now, and he will be able to advise you in the process, including what coursework you should consider taking while still in college, as well as strategies for paying off educational debt if you had to take out loans to complete school. I have heard that most orders will not admit candidates until they have discharged any debt, but do check out that statement; I may be incorrect on that point.

Part of discernment is to prayerfully identify the details of one's decision. I would suggest, if you can manage to do so, at least reading through St. Ignatius' points in Manner of Making an Election of Choice, in the Spiritual Exercises, or, better yet, finding a spiritual director.


#9

These are all things I will look into, but I was blessed in two areas: I am able to go to college debt free, and I've read plenty about the Dominican order and at least everything on paper, including the four pillars (prayer, study, community, ministry) are highly favorable to my personality and interests. I will be aware to check out all of my options though!

And I'll contact a vocational director in the next few days, if I can't today. Anything else I can be doing with my time?


#10

[quote="Konokaiden, post:9, topic:324464"]
These are all things I will look into, but I was blessed in two areas: I am able to go to college debt free, and I've read plenty about the Dominican order and at least everything on paper, including the four pillars (prayer, study, community, ministry) are highly favorable to my personality and interests. I will be aware to check out all of my options though!

And I'll contact a vocational director in the next few days, if I can't today. Anything else I can be doing with my time?

[/quote]

I guess just pray ... not only for yourself but also for others around me who will be affected by the call. For example, I am the only child of my parents, who are not Catholic but are paying for my tuition, so I definitely should pray for them ...

... and one thing I am doing is to start shaping my life as close to religious life as possible, i.e. cutting off all unnecessary entertainments, studying theology, preaching to myself ...


#11

I'll definitely be praying for you and your family as you "make the switch" to religious life. I know my dad is indifferent but my mom (they are divorced so one can't do much about the other) is pretty against it. But she was somewhat against Catholicism as a whole and I was still able (by the grace of God) to join the Church so who knows. But most people I know (all being Protestants) are anti-Catholic... Which is kinda what got me interested in the Church, but that's a different topic. Please pray for me about the next four years too!


#12

[quote="Konokaiden, post:4, topic:324464"]

That is why I want to understand things like "is waiting to finish college a waste of time, or is it a valuable opportunity for me to become more than what I currently am, in regards to knowledge, maturity, faith, etc?"

[/quote]

It is not a waste of time and you are correct, you need to mature in your faith a bit more before entering the seminary. I know that some people are concerned about student loans and paying them off, because that can be a serious impediment for their future plans in terms of religious vocation. If that is not an issue, then college is definitely not a waste of time.


#13

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