My two closest friends have both become cloistered religious. It is as though they have died! The first was a girl who I had been friends with for 13 years and then she suddenly called me to tell me that she was entering the Carmelites the following month and that we would never be able to speak again except through letters at Christmas and Easter. She entered during my freshman year of college four years ago, and I have written several unanswered letters to her. It is so hard to continue to write to someone who may not even be receiving my letters and who may not be able to return them. I am afraid that I broke some rule I knew nothing about that has made her unable to write me. I know that she is alive because I call her sister every once in a while just to make sure, but that is all I know of her. She has a new name, a new life, and yet a part of me has died with her gaining all of this.
My second friend is even more difficult to deal with. He was a close friend who helped me through a serious injury that I went through in college. He ended up falling for me and me for him, but I discerned that we were not meant to be. We remained friends and he told me and everyone that he was going to go on an extended retreat at a monastery to discern his next step in life. Almost a year later he has not left. He was an extremely likable person and those of us who knew him best have been angry with him for so long. I think I finally figured out that it is because we never got to say goodbye. He left saying that he would be back in our lives soon, and now he has a new name and we cannot communicate with him.
So, the point to all of this is:
If you are thinking of entering an order inform your friends of the terms and conditions under which they can reach you, and how often they should expect an answer. Also, give them a chance to say goodbye to you, and to get used to the idea that they may never have the chance to even say hi again. When you enter the order you lose a lot, but you also gain untold riches, those who are left behind must continue to live this life and all that has happened is that they have lost another light in their life; another source of comfort and encouragement and love and joy and laughter and so much else. So, don’t leave them out in the cold unprepared. Give them at least the consideration to let them know where you are going and if and how they might ever hear from you again.
PS: I highly encourage many young people the world over to become religious and to join cloistered orders. I think that it is an important and noble and beautiful life. But it is your choice and others have to live with it, so have the charity to prepare them.