Student Loans and Religious Vocations


#1

Has anyone else found themselves in this position? Graduate from high school, go to university and take out thousands of dollars in student loans, finish and start working only to find out that perhaps this isn’t what they’re called to do and might actually have a religious vocation, but now you’re too poor to take a vow of poverty.

I’m stuck in this position right now, and worst part is I’m nearing the cut-off age for most traditional cloistered communities. Does anyone have any experience in dealing with this issue and have any suggestions for how to get help to pay off student loans faster?

I really do think I’m being called to live a life a prayer, penance and sacrifice. I find myself having a strong tendency to the cloistered Carmelite tradition. Further, St. Therese of Lesieux reminds me of me in so many ways, it’s almost freaky.


#2

It all depends on the religious community.

My community requires those who enter to be debt free but does not count student loans in that debt. That is they will consider accepting men with student loans as long as there is no other debt.

At least that's how it was when I entered.


#3

So what happens with the student loan debt?


#4

While I finished my undergraduate degree it was payments were differed. When I entered the novititate the community made minimum payments which they either continue to do until solemn vows are taken or if possible differ them again while you are graduate school. Then they pay them off.


#5

I have been teaching English in Korea for the past 7-8 years, paying off 63k and the ridiculous interest payments. Hope to be done this year, but I could have been more strict with myself and had it paid off a bit sooner.

I was baptized 3 years ago, hoping to find a community that will accept a 41-2 year old woman. Not easy, especially because I am Canadian…not too many viable and authentic religious women’s communities in Canada.

I am hoping and trusting in God to help me…


#6

[quote="jumpfrog, post:5, topic:288185"]
I have been teaching English in Korea for the past 7-8 years, paying off 63k and the ridiculous interest payments. Hope to be done this year, but I could have been more strict with myself and had it paid off a bit sooner.

I was baptized 3 years ago, hoping to find a community that will accept a 41-2 year old woman. Not easy, especially because I am Canadian...not too many viable and authentic religious women's communities in Canada.

I am hoping and trusting in God to help me...

[/quote]

No there aren't many viable and authentic religious women's communities in Canada. I know my great aunt used to be a Grey Nun many many years ago, but I looked them up in Canada and they ain't what they used to be. I'm looking into the US. It gets a little complicated with needing a VISA and health insurance.


#7

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:1, topic:288185"]
Has anyone else found themselves in this position? Graduate from high school, go to university and take out thousands of dollars in student loans, finish and start working only to find out that perhaps this isn't what they're called to do and might actually have a religious vocation, but now you're too poor to take a vow of poverty.

I'm stuck in this position right now, and worst part is I'm nearing the cut-off age for most traditional cloistered communities. Does anyone have any experience in dealing with this issue and have any suggestions for how to get help to pay off student loans faster?

I really do think I'm being called to live a life a prayer, penance and sacrifice. I find myself having a strong tendency to the cloistered Carmelite tradition. Further, St. Therese of Lesieux reminds me of me in so many ways, it's almost freaky.

[/quote]

Have you looked at groups like the Laboure Society or Mater Ecclesiae? They have programmes to help people pay their debts so they can enter religious life.

I have several friends who are fundraising to pay student loans so they can enter religious life. One made and sold rosaries. Some have asked for collections at their parishes, done sponsored walks or runs, held garage sales. Learn to be frugal with what you buy and spend. One friend who had debts and has since entered said that if you truly put all your effort into it, God will help you. She had someone at her parish come up to her and give her some money, just saying he had a feeling she could use it - he had no idea about her efforts.

It is possible to do, but it requires work. You are in my prayers.


#8

I know debt in general can be a deterrent. I know someone who is going the secular priesthood route. His debt(all-not just student loans)needs to be paid off before ordination. That is maybe 5 years from now.
CB


#9

After two years in college, I'll have approximately $65k to pay off, if I am accepted to the community I've applied to, and I trust entirely in the Lord -- I've abandoned this to Him.

Some of the best advice I've heard:
"If God wants you in, nothing on earth will be able to keep you out; if God wants you out, nothing on earth will be able to get you in. So be at peace and trust that God knows what He is doing. Just take it one step at a time."

I'm going to live that last part, and I've started to plan. I have a webpage finished, ready to launch. I've compiled lists of people to whom I will send letters. I'm ready to call up the different parishes I've been a member of in the past years, to do parish talks and mini fundraisers.

To be honest, I'm least worried about the finances. I trust that God will take care of it.

Good luck! Spend as much time as possible discussing this vocation with the Lord, and once you've found a community and been accepted (a process that might take considerable time in itself), don't be afraid to reach out; God puts it on people's hearts to help those whom He loves and calls by name.


#10

Follow your heart, the Lord will provide for you.


#11

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:6, topic:288185"]
No there aren't many viable and authentic religious women's communities in Canada. I know my great aunt used to be a Grey Nun many many years ago, but I looked them up in Canada and they ain't what they used to be. I'm looking into the US. It gets a little complicated with needing a VISA and health insurance.

[/quote]

I don't agree with the statement **"No there aren't many viable and authentic religious women's communities in Canada." **The religious life isn't my vocation, but I have met several amazing communities that depending on the type of order someone was discerning, are pretty interesting. Plus many orders are located in many cities across the globe therefore just because a person enters in a certain city, it doesn't mean they won't be moved around either. I've met many people who are serving in Montreal but they aren't from Montreal. Some orders send their noviates to a certain city for formation before they are moved to another area. Therefore when a person becomes certain that the religious life is for them, it would be a good idea to have that passport extremely current and up to date. You never know where God will lead someone.


#12

[quote="jumpfrog, post:5, topic:288185"]
I have been teaching English in Korea for the past 7-8 years, paying off 63k and the ridiculous interest payments. Hope to be done this year, but I could have been more strict with myself and had it paid off a bit sooner.

I was baptized 3 years ago, hoping to find a community that will accept a 41-2 year old woman. Not easy, especially because I am Canadian...not too many viable and authentic religious women's communities in Canada.

I am hoping and trusting in God to help me...

[/quote]

I was able to find a few religious communities that allow women to enter after age 40.

Benedictine Nuns of Abbaye Mont-de-la-Redemption (age limit is 18+)

Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Armstrong, BC (no set age limit; case by case basis)

Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Agatha, ON (no age limit found on website)

Servants of the Cross (no age limit found on website)

Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate (age limit is 45 years old)


The Recluse Sisters
(age limit is 45)

Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus (their stated age limit is 35 but I know for a fact that they will consider older vocations)

You shouldn't limit yourself only to the communities in Canada, though. I'm sure that there are communities in the USA that will assist you in getting a religious visa to serve here. :)


#13

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