The practicalities of a vocation -- too young? should finish college? etc


#1

Hi everyone! I'm a 20-year-old college student in NYC, finishing up my sophomore year. I'm certain that I have a calling to the religious life, and I've found a community of cloistered Dominican nuns in New Jersey that I feel will be my home.

I've told a few friends my plans for the next year: to do a 3-4 week aspirancy (stay in the cloister) with the nuns in May, and then, if the call is as strong and sure, enter as soon as I can after I pay off loans, etc., preferably before the end of the year.

A good friend of mine expressed major concerns that I would enter before finishing up college, and while I understand the concern practically, emotionally and spiritually I'm so sure of my vocation that I would much prefer to just drop everything in my life today and enter tomorrow.

Can someone please talk through this with me?

Should finishing college be a requirement? The thought of spending two more years in school, when my heart is caught up in a monastery in small-town Jersey, sounds like the biggest hell of my life.

Is it wrong to think that, if I discern out of the monastery in a few years, God will provide for me in terms of finishing college, etc.?

What should I do?

These questions all assume that I will want to enter after the aspirancy, that I will be accepted into the community, etc., but they weigh heavily on my heart.

Thanks.


#2

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:279190"]
Hi everyone! I'm a 20-year-old college student in NYC, finishing up my sophomore year. I'm certain that I have a calling to the religious life, and I've found a community of cloistered Dominican nuns in New Jersey that I feel will be my home.

[/quote]

I'm a 21-year-old college student in Western New York, finishing up my junior year. I've lived in both the middle of nowhere (Western New York) and close enough to the city (Yonkers) to say I have experienced that the grass is not always greener on the other side as far as the rural/city jump is concerned...

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:279190"]
I've told a few friends my plans for the next year: to do a 3-4 week aspirancy (stay in the cloister) with the nuns in May, and then, if the call is as strong and sure, enter as soon as I can after I pay off loans, etc., preferably before the end of the year.

[/quote]

Telling your friends can be a bit of a bit of a "6 in one, half a dozen in another" situation... If you discern out of it, there tends to be that stigma of "I let everybody down"... That being said, I understand the feeling of needing to tell someone.

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:279190"]
A good friend of mine expressed major concerns that I would enter before finishing up college, and while I understand the concern practically, emotionally and spiritually I'm so sure of my vocation that I would much prefer to just drop everything in my life today and enter tomorrow.
Can someone please talk through this with me?

[/quote]

I've personally been told that finishing a college degree is most prudent path. To be honest, it's a safer bet to have a college degree just in case things don't work out. Finishing your college also has the benefit of showing you can handle commitments.

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:279190"]
Should finishing college be a requirement? The thought of spending two more years in school, when my heart is caught up in a monastery in small-town Jersey, sounds like the biggest hell of my life.

[/quote]

Discernment is a funny thing... Some days you find yourself saying "Sign me up right away! I'm 300% ready to give my life to the lord as !". Other days, you can find yourself thinking "What the hell am I thinking? I can serve God and still have a family... After all, we need solid lay people, and that could easily be me!". You can think through it with prayer, you can think through it logically... You can go about it many ways. At the end of the day, I like to believe that God's will is going to be done no matter what; but that doesn't mean we should put our immediate lives on hold either.

I am slightly in the same situation (though I dare say I don't aspire to be a nun:p), and have come up with this:
The vocation will always be there. The ability, motivation, and money will not be for college however (especially the money... God only knows how we afford college these days).

Keeping this in mind, think of finishing college as your sacrifice for the Lord. He would certainly not want to "leave you with the bag", so to speak, if you discerned out of it.

[quote="Safia, post:1, topic:279190"]
These questions all...
...weigh heavily on my heart.

[/quote]

Believe me I know that feeling well.


#3

I know how you feel.

I think it would be better to finish school. That way, if you end up not pursuing that vocation you won’t have lost that time.

Also, you may be able to better serve God if you finish out your education. You might find that the skills you learn in school will be adaptable to a situation in your convent and you could be a valuable asset and do more to build the kingdom of God.


#4

Well I think what Lamentation said was definitely some good advice. I myself am 20 and finishing up my sophomore year down here in Bama country.

I’m also probably called to be a Dominican friar. Right now I’d say I’m about 60%-65% sure of this. I’m glad you are certain of what your vocation is!!

Anyways, from a practical standpoint it makes sense to get the degree and graduate if by some chance you ended up not becoming a Dominican nun. On the other hand, you’re going to want the degree if you DO become a nun. Especially because a major part of Dominican spirituality is devoted to study/ scholarship/ learning/ teaching. As part of your vocation you might end up teaching… and I know many teachers in religious orders have PhD’s, and Masters, etc. And are very very educated. And even though you’ll study as a Dominican, it’s going to help to bring some other knowledge to the table. It doesn’t matter if it’s a math major, music major, liberal arts, science, engineering; it will probably come in handy and be put to good use in the convent.

So, now that you’re in college you’ve got to stay in and get the degree. It will benefit you no matter what you do.

Lastly, bouncing off what Lamentations said… I try to keep in mind St. Jose Maria Escriva’s teaching that work/ studying can be a form of prayer. The Lord doesn’t see studying as a waste of time, but rather as a way to exercise and improve all the intellectual giftings He has given to us.

Oh, and you might want to join this CAF group in the meantime:
forums.catholic.com/group.php?groupid=1441


#5

I agree finish school that is extremely important. That said when you aren't in school such as during your various breaks, who is to say, you can't visit them, spend the odd weekend and whatever activity they are hosting for potential new people. I know that the vocational process to be accepted can take many years and there is no reason why when you are on break, you can't pursue your vocation. It is important to keep in mind that school comes first. Your marks cannot suffer. Education is extremely important in today's society. I know a nun who had her master's engineering before she joined. It is also important to study what you love and what will give you the training you need to get a good job. Up here in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, it is extremely common for students to do a double major. It might be worth taking a look at doing. As you pursue both, remember education is also a vocation, what you study is a vocation therefore you aren't really wasting your time. I'm presently doing my masters, have a certificate as well as I double majored for my degree so I understand the entire educational system.


#6

I would recommend you finish school.

I also wonder how you would enter the religious order if you still have student loans/debt.


#7

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