I feel a strong call to investigate a monastic vocation (Benedictine) but I have massive student loans nearing the hundred thousand mark. How can I ever pursue my vocation in this life with such an obstacle?
Nothing is impossible to God…but realities are as they are unless a miracle comes my way soon!
I cannot recall the name of the group off the top of my head, but I know there is some non-profit group whose mission is to pay off student loan debt for those entering the priesthood or religious life. I think they were based out of Minnesota. I’m drawing a blank on the name, though. If I think of it, I will post. Otherwise, you might search around.
Many of us are in this situation. The first duty is to prayer and frequent Mass attendance. Grow closer to Christ. Pray the rosary and ask Our Lady to intercede for you. She loves religious orders a good deal. Pray to St. Joseph and St. Jude, both of whom are known to help provide for people in need, particularly in tight situations. If God is behind this, it will not fail - I think the right attitude is always to be faithful and trusting, but not a couch potato. Be pro-active.
Secondly, there are two groups that I know of that are helping people with their student loans so they can enter into religious life/the priesthood. One is the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. They basically begin paying off your loans while you’re in formation. Should you persevere, God willing, they will pay the rest off for you. However, if you discern out, you simply take over the repayment of the loans from where you left off. You don’t owe them anything. This allows you to discern without the guilt of the money over your head.
The second group is the Laboré Society . This is a group that teaches you how to fund raise. You are admitted to a “class” of others who are discerning and you all combine your efforts to raise funds for your class. Then each person gets a particular share of that class’ funds.
Thirdly, begin to pay down your loans if you can. Anything is better than nothing. Pack lunches instead of eating out, shop at Goodwill, etc. I’m in a similar boat and I’ve been really strict with myself - I bring coffee in a thermos every day to school instead of buying it, I pack my lunch so I don’t eat out on campus, I basically eat vegetarian during the week so I don’t buy a lot of meat. These things have freed up a couple hundred dollars a month that I now put toward my loans and credit card debt.
I had no idea organizations like this exist. As one who’s also possibly discerning religious life with student loans over my head, this does give me hope. It allows me to continue to pray and discern as I finish school and realize that loans don’t necessarily have to be the thing that ends my discernment.
Not to crush your hope, but these groups aim to help people with small debt in order to be able to help more people (which is annoying, since it’s a lot easier to pay off small debt than huge gigantic debt). They also expect that those who are discerning will leave school in order to stop going into more debt and be able to work to pay them off.
I am also in the same boat. Mine are almost at the $80,000 mark. It doesn’t help that I am severely underemployed and am just making it by to pay bills. The nuns I have spoken to have encouraged me to find benefactors. I will be fundraising and doing whatever I can to make more money. I was able to pay off about $6000 since July by simply opening my mail (Government gave me a $5000 bursary towards my loan for being poor).
What it seems like to me is that if it’s God’s will, if we put our fair share of effort into paying our debt, doors will open and God will make it happen.
I’ll be up to about $10,000 when I graduate in May… and any little bit helps, really. But I’m doing everything I can now to find a job to start paying it all off, little by little. If God really wants me to enter the convent, He’ll help me find a way.
At the end of the day, my opinion is that these loans came in because grants went out, so anyone before student loans was lucky and have little room to get self-righteous about your debt. And other people born with money didn’t have to worry. Admittedly, the kind of money you are talking about is a lot, so you could try paying some of it and then this looks better - if you have at least tried to pay some. I wouldn’t suffer a headache because of it. Just make sure you pay your bank debts if you have any because they are definitely taken into account. Speak to the Order you are thinking of approaching and take their advice. If they say to try paying it then do it, if not, then leave it. However, this is my opinion and I appreciate at the same time, that this doesn’t seem overly responsible, and this may well be the opinion of Orders you approach with this kind of total debt.
When I was pursuing a religious vocation in high school, the sisters at the convent I spoke with strongly encouraged me to get a bachelor’s degree before applying to join. And I can see where they were coming from, but for most of us, student debt is kind of inevitable to greater or lesser extents. Now that I’m going to graduate in May, it’s definitely something I’ll be talking to the sisters about when I attend my discernment retreat next month.
hope you don’t have graduate school debt. try joining the prestigious six figure club. to pay this thing off I think somebody is going to find a post it note from me one morning reading “off to join the foreign legion, au revoir”. but in all seriousness this is going to become a larger and larger problem these days when nearly everyone gets sucked into a black hole of debt to get a degree, which some communities seem to require. I have only met one person in my academic career who had a full ride to university from their parents.the thing that baffles me is the fact that there seem to be so many especially Benedictines with hugely advanced degrees such as multiple p.h.d.s were they sent to school by the order after vows? or did they sell a kidney on the black market to pay off the debt in time to make the age cut off?
If Benedictines put people through PHDs then I’d join, straight off, but I am not sure they do. Many years ago I visited a Benedictine Order where someone had just given vows and had come from one of the two top Universities in the U.K! I think the Benedictines in particular often attract people with ‘good background’ because of the life-style that is similar or from a reaction to their old lifestyle but not too distant a lifestyle (?).