What about mental illness and religious life?

I suffer from depression, ocd, and anxiety (mainly social anxiety). Although I can usually talk to small groups of people or have one on one conversation I cannot talk to a large group, and even with a small group/one on one I usually cannot stop thinking later about what “I said wrong” (even though it’s usually something simple no one else even thought about). I was wondering if that automatically means I cannot become a nun or a sister. I’m not sure if I should even discern a vocation to the religious life.

Dear friend,

From what you have written, I really can’t say. A lot depends on how old you are and how severe the illness is. Have you asked your therapist? Have you asked any vocation directors? Even if it is not possible for your to make public vows in a religious order, it may be possible for you to become a lay member of a religious order. If there is a Benedictine monastery in you vicinity, I suggest you check out its oblate chapter. Certainly, your mental illness is no accident. The Lord has allowed you to carry this cross, at least up until the present. Only He knows how long He is asking your to carry it. To the degree that you keep your eyes on Him, you will find peace. You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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