To be a nun with previous mental health issues

Hello all, thanks for reading, I pray the right person reads this who can help me…
I have been diagnosed with a mental illness…very long story, they basically diagnosed me back when I was 19 when I told my friends and family I wanted to be a nun and they have told me I have symptoms of religious preoccupation…I think thats pretty weird, but anyway, my reason for this post is to find out if anyone knows of any Orders of nuns, in particular they need to be located in Australia, preferrably as I dont exaclty have money to go overseas to visit a convent, that accept women that have been fragile in the past but are currently stable. I first tried the Carmelites and thought Id be honest and they dismissed me straight away, then I was referred to Missionaries of Gods Love Sisters and they woman in charge didnt seem accepting whatsoever, so I also tried Sister Disciples of the Divine Master and had an interview with the Sister in charge there she was really nice to me and told me that I most likely have been knocked back from Carmelites because they are a contemplative order. Anyway, so she told me I need to get references and be off medication then they will consider me. So I suppose thats a start:D Basically I just want to find out though if I could broaden my options in case it doesnt go to plan. I spoke to Sister in charge of Melbourne Good Shephard Sisters but they arent really into an enthused religious life in that they dont have daily adoration and prayers and such. Therefore I am interested in being with an order that spends time with the Bible and in prayer.
Please help if possible :slight_smile:
God bless you all

Priests and religious are required to undertake rigorous psychological assessment. Their life in community does put potential strain on relationships.
As you wish to spend your time in prayer and reading the bible, failing all else, you could either begin a community of like-minded Catholics.
I myself wished to be a Carmelite nun, but had I, it’s possible my some of my particular elusive medical problems would never have been diagnosed and I would be dead by now. It appears God didn’t wish that.Sometimes we have desires to serve in a particular way but God blocks the way because of facts known only to Him at the time.

Alternately you could join a Third Order or Lay Order or Tertiary Order as it is variously called. Have you researched any of these beautiful and valuable avenues to holiness? The fraternity and you will discern your vocation together, but if your mental illness is managed and stable there is no reason to advertise it when applying for acceptance as a postulant to the Lay Orders with which I have had contact. Just go gently and wisely, and you will be accepted and welcomed simply as you are.

These Lay religious orders are regulated by Church law as well as their particular religious rule and their own constitutions and customs. They allow time for communal prayer, private prayer, spiritual reading, and outreach, in accordance with their own order’s charism of gift. These Orders include Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Salesians, Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Congregation of Holy Cross. These are true Orders of the Church and usually have a process of discernment before temporary, and then later, full profession.

You might not want to put so many limitations on it if you are sure this is what you want. Also have you considered active vs contemplative etc.

Here is a website you might want to check out that will increase outreach also you may want to maybe get a part-time job and save up money to travel if need be to get out of Australia if you find an order willing to take you. Remember Sr Cambrini was turned down by several orders.

Also what do your mental health professionals think?

Vocations Placement Website

I havnt bothered talking to my dr about it as they will immediately think that its wrong as they seem to be against me reading the Bible and think that Im too religious already

are you able to see a Catholic doctor or at least a Christian doctor? You can always request a second opinion - well at least in this country. My soon to be xh tried to make a case for piety being delusion once - luckily I worked for the hospital he tried it at longer than we had been married which is what saved me. Try talking to your priest - if your priest is on board with you maybe he can recommend someone you can see.

You will find that not only lay professionals, but also good Religious can be wary of what seems to them be excessive piety. Of course, this requires gentle discernment. There is a fine balance, and piety and devotion must have fruits in practical acts of charity to others. A good balance of both is something both groups of lay and Religious people will look for. As I don’t know you I have no idea of how things are with you. But I do hope you will find a place of welcome in the Church for your religious fervour and desires. This is also why I suggested the possibility of Third Orders of the Church like the Lay Carmelites and Secular Franciscans.

You will find that not only medical professionals, but also good Religious can be wary of what seems to them to be excessive piety. Of course, this requires gentle discernment. There is a fine balance, and piety and devotion must have fruits in practical acts of charity to others. A good balance of both is something both groups of lay and Religious people will look for. As I don’t know you I have no idea of how things are with you. But I do hope you will find a place of welcome in the Church for your religious fervour and desires. This is also why I suggested the possibility of Third Orders of the Church like the Lay Carmelites and Secular Franciscans. These are valuable avenues of prayer and worship of God, and of the growth of holiness and mutual charity.

I don’t mean to dissuade you, but I want to warn you. I went through about 2.5 years of anguish and torment during my discernment because I have a mental illness and I thought for sure that I was called to a religious vocation. I decided to try my vocation with some active/contemplative Sisters here in the USA–the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in Milwaukee, WI. The Sisters there were very accepting of my illness as long as I could handle the rigors of religious life. They even admitted a girl who was discerning the same time I was (I met her) and she entered in Sept. 2009. I found out from her that her doctor said she would have to be on medication for the rest of her life, yet the Sisters accepted her for entrance. I thought, because of this, and because of the great time I had with them that this was my home and I applied for entrance. I was asked to test my vocation for 6 weeks at one of the homes for children run by the Sisters. I went up in May 2009 with the intention of staying until June and I hoped to receive my entrance date at the end of a successful stay. I didn’t last 3 days and I wanted to go home because of the intense anxiety I was experiencing. I wasn’t on my medication at the time, and I really should have been, but the doctor and I thought I was ok without it. I decided to come home, and at the same time, ended my discernment with the Sisters since I was not mentally fit to enter religious life.

I tried my hardest to find another order that would accept me, but I found absolutely none. Every single one wanted to know if I had any history of mental illness and I was forced to tell them I had a history of depression and anxiety. After that, the door was shut and I was told, “Sorry, we cannot admit you. You must be healthy.” I went through hell because I thought God had given me a vocation but was torturing me by not letting me fulfill His will. I felt like I had done something wrong in leaving the Sisters even though there was no way I could have stayed since I wasn’t on medication. I never asked them if I could retry my vocation after getting back on it because I discerned I am not called to religious life. I made an error and believed wholeheartedly after a reversion experience that I was called to religious life. But it was convert zeal for me. After about 2 years, I realized slowly that I was losing interest.

I stopped discerning this August. Before then, I was feeling upset and not at peace with myself because I there was something wrong. When I stopped looking, I have never felt more peace than I do right now. Sure, I do wonder sometimes if I made the right decision, but mostly, I am absolutely sure I did. I have a clear direction of where I want to go and I feel that I am called to be a celibate single, at least for now.

If you are being turned away from a religious order, it is not because they don’t want to admit you–it’s because they cannot. Religious life is not easy and those who live it must be fit in all aspects before they can succeed. I really hope the girl who was admitted to my former community of interest succeeds. She is now a novice and I am always praying for her perseverance. Perhaps you should check into these Sisters. I don’t know if they have a convent in Australia, but maybe you are called to the US? Stay open to every path because you never know where God will lead you! :slight_smile:

I think you make an important distinction here, too. You thought God had given you a religious vocation. That is very wise of you to say, from my understanding, because a vocation must be confirmed by the Church to be a legitimate vocation, regardless of our own personal take on the matter. So, well spoken!

To the OP, I would say that if the illness becomes a handicapping factor that cannot be overcome, then obviously God has a different plan for you! This is great news, too! If you are open to His will, and trying to give Him everything, He knows this. Remember that He knows any impediments you may have, and in fact, they will be crucial to your path to Sainthood. God be with you in your discernment.

In Christ Through Mary,


The funny thing is, people were trying to tell me this all along but I was too bullheaded to listen. My mom said that it probably wasn’t meant to be if I was hitting roadblocks in any direction I went in. I don’t feel sorry for one second that I discerned religious life because I learned so much about my faith and myself. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. The time spent with Sisters when I visited communities was priceless. I have a very respectful view of religious and priests because of what I witnessed. They are loved so much by God that they were given such an important task of praying for His people and serving Him.

Not everyone is called to religious life and those that aren’t shouldn’t feel any less special because of it. God has something wonderful planned for everyone. You just have to be willing to look for it and keep a life of prayer and faith. Never give up! :smiley:

what is the order called?

could you please direct me if possible to some lay orders? I googled it but could not find anything.

You are most likely to find Third Orders in the parishes in your Melbourne Archdiocese that have religious Orders in the parishes. For instance, the Carmelites (O’Carm) have the parish of St Joseph’s at Port Melbourne/Middle Park.

This is a Secular/Third Order Carmelites OCD link for another branch

It depends on what suburb you live in how close you are to one of the Orders, and it also depends upon your spirituality. Franciscans (Capuchin and Conventual, and others) are deeply immersed in the Gospel way of life, which could suit you for your love of Scripture.
I haven’t time tonight to begin checking all the possibilities for Religious Third Orders tonight, but I know the Capuchins and other Franciscans are in Melbourne, as well, no doubt, several other Orders. I’m not from Melbourne.

Forgive my incomplete reply but I’m very weary and in need of sleep just now.

God bless you

The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus–Northern Province. Their rules for entrance differ somewhat from the Central Province in that they don’t require you to be off of medication or have a completely clear mental health history. The Central Province is VERY strict. I discerned with them first because my friend was a candidate and entered last year. She is a first-year novice right now. The Northern Province has a Motherhouse in Wauwatosa, WI (right outside Milwaukee) and the apostolate I tried was in East Chicago, IN. Both orders’ websites have great information.

Northern Province

Central Province

Sr. Immaculata is the vocation director/novice mistress for the Northern Province. She is a former Provincial Superior of the Wauwatosa house and the current local Superior in the Motherhouse. Sr. Maria Giuseppe is the Provincial Superior. Both of them are very nice and will help you in any way they can. I dearly miss Sr. Immaculata because she was very easy to talk to and very approachable. :slight_smile:

Since you were interested in the Carmellites you could google “Third Order Carmellites or Lay Carmellites”

There is also the Secular Franciscan Order. The Dominicans also have a lay order. So do the Benedictines.

This is all for you to discern.

Christine is Australian and lives in Melbourne, so she may find it less stressful to find a local Order rather that to try to emigrate. May God bless you in your own discernment

thankyou for all your help everyone its much appreciated !~!~! :slight_smile:


I have questions for “DaughterOfMary6” regarding this post:

I tried to PM you, but there was no option available.

I’m in a similar situation. I have an emotional/mental weakness and I’m discerning a particular women’s order. I was wondering when and how to tell an order about my condition. I’m also on medicine for it and symptom free while on it. Might I ask what sort of medicine that girl is on and what her condition was?

What does the order you mentioned do with children when you tried out? What did they have you do? What was stressful there?

Thank you and God bless you. :slight_smile:

I honestly have no idea what kind of medication that the young lady was on when I met her. She alluded to the idea that it was psychiatric medication, but I did not ask.

The order works with the emotionally disturbed and also children who have been removed from the home by court judges and placed in the Carmelite home. These include babies as well. When I was there, I went with a Sister to pick up a baby in a hospital who had a seizure disorder. There are varying degrees of what kind of illnesses they handle. I can tell you that it is not for the faint of heart. Many of these children have been sexually or physically abused, so they need constant care and attention. I could not handle the stress of working with the children because I did not have any experience in that area, though I had worked in a daycare and taken child psychology classes. I was supposed to work with the preschoolers, but asked if I could be moved to the nursery. I worked only one day. The next day, I had a severe anxiety attack because of the stress and asked to return home since I couldn’t eat. I knew immediately it was not for me.

Please don’t misunderstand the Sisters, though. They were going to train me to work with the children, but, when I entered the order, I would have been able to cooperate in choosing the correct apostolate for me. I would have chosen the elderly apostolate. It takes a very special individual to care for the children. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for sharing. That is definately need to know information, as stressful situations are an issue for me, and those are some very serious matters the Sisters deal with.

I’ve volunteered in a nursing home before, and that can be VERY stressful, too, because you can get people swearing at you; people that are not all there, and make you a little crazy being around them; some are super clingy; it’s hard to have logical conversations with a lot of them; some are super negative or down; some are crying; a lot of them are hard to be around because they barely talk, sleep a lot, look sad, etc.; some think you said things you didn’t, etc. etc. I found it very stressful. I think it really depends on how much contact you have. They might just have a person clip nails, brush hair, etc. Or it might be socializing, and that’s when it can be tough.

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