Vocation and chronic illness

Hi everyone,

I feel a calling to do more and I’m still in the process of figuring things out through prayer. I feel a strong attraction to the religious life. There’s already an order I really really like. However, I have crohns and manage it with medicine and diet. While I’m in remission, it’s a chronic illness.

I know that this is a deal breaker to become a nun or sister. I understand the financial burden the medical costs can be for an order. I guess I just want someone that knows more than me to definitely confirm that there’s no way. For example, I’ve heard of orders that accept older vocations. I’ve also read that women with student debts should not be deterred and can consult ways to decrease this debt or work with it ect.

I’m 23 and have no debt but I have this health condition. Perhaps an apostolic order has other arrangements? Maybe there is an order that has an agreement with a hospital for the health care of their members? I’m making this up of course. It’s just frustrating to feel a calling and know that in reality I can’t. It disrupts my discernment process. It’s a constant back and forth between the calling and the abrupt “might as well forget it because I have crohns.”

If it is the case that there’s no order that will accept my situation, then it’s ok. I certainly don’t want to be a burden. It just wouldn’t be what God’s calling me for. I’d also feel a relief so I can continue my path and see what he does want from me.

Thanks everyone!

Hello Hopmul, and welcome to the forum.

To deal with a chronic disease or disability is often a most difficult thing, and sadly it can close many doors both within the Church and within the secular world. At one time, ecclesiastical writers used to speak about the “apostolate of the sick,” whereby the sufferer would display for his caregivers detachment from the things of this world, fortitude in the face of the sickness, and trust in God’s will, and would join his sufferings to those of Christ as a penance for one’s past sins and vicariously for those of others. Alas, we hear little of this nowadays, though it is a most excellent attitude to have even in those run-of-the-mill cases of sickness which we all must endure. To this we must add the necessity of managing or treating one’s illness as far as one is able, whether merely through conventional treatments or by them in conjunction with complementary methods such as homeopathy. It sounds as though you are doing this admirably.

As far as the order you like goes, not all hope should be lost, though. It may be that you could never become a religious with them, but you can inquire if they have a group of lay associates or something of the like, whereby you might remain familiar with them, benefit from their prayers, and perhaps retreat with them and receive spiritual direction. Thus, you could come to live the charism of this order in the world.

I’ll keep a place for you in my prayers.

I say do not give in, what is for you will not pass you by, write a letter to the Bishop he might know of an Order that takes delicate people, the Visitation enclosed nuns take girls in pending on what is wrong, but you wont know unless you ask, as they were founded for the delicate. Look up the nearest Visitation Monastery near you , E-mail , ring, or send them a letter - you can only ask.

God Bless. If the Lord is with you , who can stand against you. Let us know how your getting on in your search.

Keep praying and ask God to show you what He wants you to do and to make it possible.

I don’t these situations were mental decisions or rather set agreements that religious should bear their sickness in a certain way; but rather, were grace-filled gifts, given to the sufferer at the time selected by God - miracles, in other words!


How disabled are you? Do you have other impediments such as student debt? Do you have a college education, which would be a plus? It’s my impression that a person with Crohn’s disease can be very well controlled these days.

What sort of religious order are you interested in? Charism, work, focus.

Do not do what I did and give up! I carried guilt around for 40, yes 40 years that I did not keep trying! I, too have Chrons!! You can still dedicate yourself to Christ. He is not rejecting you!!! God Bless, I will pray for you

I would hope that the nature of your chronic illness would be taken into consideration. I am not a religious, but if I were–I have IBS–so an Order where you’re going to different countries to minister or being out on the streets ministering to people would definitely be out for me…but one where I would be in a monastery where I could take bathroom breaks as needed would be great…the illness/suffering would add to your power of prayer…I don’t know what the nature of your chronic illness is…but if God’s will is for you join an Order, He will lead you to the right one.

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