Visiting Convents to Discern Vocation


#1

Hello,
I am a freshman in college discerning the call to become a nun. By 'discerning,' I mean that God has called me and I am going to be a nun unless his plan for me changes before I graduate. My question is: Does anybody have advice on visiting convents? The trouble I am running into is that I feel called to the cloister, but you cannot just visit a cloister. They are very particular about who visits, and usually it must be because you are genuinely discerning joining that specific order. I would like to visit the Carmelites, but I am not yet sure about whether I feel called to their order. Is there any chance they will let me visit, knowing I am not planning on entering? I am just trying to discern where I am supposed to be, and can't know something is my vocation if I haven't even tried it!

Thanks!


#2

Of course they will let you visit! How are you supposed to know you're called somewhere if you've never been there? You don't have to be committed to entering to visit.

Most communities will have a guest room separate from the cloister for those who wish to visit. I have done this with the community I hope to enter, I stayed in their retreat house and went to the abbey church for Mass and some of the Divine Office and they arranged for me to meet with the novice mistress so I could discuss with her my vocation and learn more about their community. If I wish to continue discerning with their community, I can then go on what is called a live-in, where I would be allowed inside the cloister to spend a few weeks living their lifestyle.

If there is a Carmelite community near you, contact them and say you are discerning a religious vocation, are interested in their spirituality and would like to visit and find out more.


#3

Please visit my site: cloisters.tripod.com/

We will keep you in prayer.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#4

[quote="PerfectTiming, post:2, topic:273808"]
Of course they will let you visit! How are you supposed to know you're called somewhere if you've never been there? You don't have to be committed to entering to visit.

Most communities will have a guest room separate from the cloister for those who wish to visit. I have done this with the community I hope to enter, I stayed in their retreat house and went to the abbey church for Mass and some of the Divine Office and they arranged for me to meet with the novice mistress so I could discuss with her my vocation and learn more about their community. If I wish to continue discerning with their community, I can then go on what is called a live-in, where I would be allowed inside the cloister to spend a few weeks living their lifestyle.

If there is a Carmelite community near you, contact them and say you are discerning a religious vocation, are interested in their spirituality and would like dto visit and find out more.

[/quote]

Depends on the community. I know of some in the UK who wont permit live-ins, which can be super stressful for the nuns. The Visitation will permit both discernment and regular retreats.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#5

I know the Recluse sisters in Montreal, Quebec, which is a cloistered order organizes it in several stages. For instance, initially the person is invited to stay for a weekend or several weekends in the visitor's area of the monastery. I believe they are also put into contact with a spiritual director as well at this initial step. Then if it is positive, they return for a week or a few weeks. Then they go home and then, they return for a few months and live inside the community for a while. Then they go home. I don't know when exactly they are accepted into the community to begin their initial studies. I know that it occurs over a period of at least a year if not more. It's an area that I don't know a lot about in fact.


#6

[quote="emmaberry, post:1, topic:273808"]
Hello,
I am a freshman in college discerning the call to become a nun. By 'discerning,' I mean that God has called me and I am going to be a nun unless his plan for me changes before I graduate. My question is: Does anybody have advice on visiting convents? The trouble I am running into is that I feel called to the cloister, but you cannot just visit a cloister. They are very particular about who visits, and usually it must be because you are genuinely discerning joining that specific order. I would like to visit the Carmelites, but I am not yet sure about whether I feel called to their order. Is there any chance they will let me visit, knowing I am not planning on entering? I am just trying to discern where I am supposed to be, and can't know something is my vocation if I haven't even tried it!

Thanks!

[/quote]

Yes, they will let you visit! You're discerning :) I visited several communities, cloistered and not. The two cloistered communities I visited, I was not allowed in the cloister--obviously--but had plenty of time to talk with them, participate in prayer and Mass from the public side of the grille in the chapel....etc. Although I was primarily interested in the Carmelites and Dominicans, I still visited a few other communities. Both the Carmelite and Dominican cloistered communities had periods of several weeks that a candidate could spend inside the cloister, after that time she was to go home and pray and reflect for a time before taking any further steps to possibly enter.

God Bless you as you discern. The only other thing I can say is, you'll know. I know that sounds goofy, I wished people would stop saying that, but I found it to be absolutely true, God will let you know! :)


#7

I suggest you speak with a spiritual director to help you with your discernment and the vocations office in your diocese. They will probably know a lot of things about a variety of different religious orders and can help you find retreats to go on, convents/monasteries to visit, etc.

A spiritual director will also talk to you and help you discern if you are called to an active order or a contemplative one. I know of someone who wanted to be a contemplative but her spiritual director said she’d be better fit for an active order. And another case where a woman began her discernment on a retreat with an active order, and they told her she’d be better suited for contemplative. So you never know where you might be called, and you may be called to a different order than you originally imagined yourself in.


#8

[quote="emmaberry, post:1, topic:273808"]
Hello,
I am a freshman in college discerning the call to become a nun. By 'discerning,' I mean that God has called me and I am going to be a nun unless his plan for me changes before I graduate. My question is: Does anybody have advice on visiting convents? The trouble I am running into is that I feel called to the cloister, but you cannot just visit a cloister. They are very particular about who visits, and usually it must be because you are genuinely discerning joining that specific order. I would like to visit the Carmelites, but I am not yet sure about whether I feel called to their order. Is there any chance they will let me visit, knowing I am not planning on entering? I am just trying to discern where I am supposed to be, and can't know something is my vocation if I haven't even tried it!

Thanks!

[/quote]

College is a wonderful time to begin the discernment process. Does your College have a Newman 's club? Or a Catholic chaplain? There is no right way or wrong way to begin your discernment process. If I might suggest *do * find either a spiritual director or at the very least a priest or nun who can validate your vocation and support you in the process.

I cant speak for other cloistered communities but (being a Poor Clare) I can say that most communities will welcome a visit, perhaps only a short one to begin with but by all means start contacting any communities you might be interested in. The vocation directress will lead you in the way that their community begins the discernment process.

I will add you to my prayer list as we pray daily for vocations to the religious life ( Not just for our community of course but to religious life in general)

Peace and Blessings

Sr Debbie, O.S.C.


#9

If you havent done so already, I think learning more about the Order's particular spirituality by reading the writings of their prominent saints and/or founders will also help. So for Discalced Carmelites the suggestions would be to read St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, and St Therese of Lisieux.


#10

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