When You Have Been Rejected (Good Advice For You)

From someone who has been there.

There is nothing that devastates you like being rejected by a vocations committee. You made yourself completely open and vulnerable, only to be rejected for some reasons that are never quite explained to you, short of vague lines like “we have concerns” or “you are not what we are looking for” or “perhaps you should seek counseling”.

Goodbye Good Men, indeed.

Three things should be kept in mind with all of this. First, it is not you, it is them. In my experience, I never understood what “many are called, few are chosen” truly meant until it became clear that God calls, but it is mere men and women who will do the choosing. They have agendas, and if you do not fit in, then you will be blackballed. Accept this - do not even think of taking this to the bishop. He does not care.

Second, you did nothing wrong. If they rejected you, it was them - and they will answer to God for it some day. You need to move on. And remember - do not leave the Church because of them. I know someone who posted here once who did just that after being rejected by his deacon program so close to ordination (and was hurt further by a cruel comment on this board - you know who you are). It is heartbreaking, and I can see why he did leave. But do not do the same - stay for Jesus Christ, and stay in spite of them.

Third, do not let the phrase, “Well! There are two sides to every story!” get to you. As I always respond, “Yes, there is - and if you ever find out what the other side is, then do tell me”. When you are rejected, they will never tell you exactly why - but you know why.

You are a good person, a decent person, and someone loved by God. Your worth is not measured by what other say, and GOD HAS NOT REJECTED YOU! Chin up, shoulders back, and look ahead (never looking back). Today is a new day, and tomorrow holds promise.

I would add to that to remember the saints who tried to join Orders and were rejected by several before they found a place to honour their calling. The one which immediately springs to mind is Saint Faustina.

As someone else who has been there, I would take a considerably different view.

Anyone entering into the process must necessarily trust in God and what he wants for their life and not what they think he wants. Vocations directors and members of vocations committees have an unenviable job but one which is incredibly important. It’s also worth bearing in mind that they often have had the benefit of interviewing any number of applicants and so have more than a bit of an idea about vocations.

Yes, rejection hurts. Often however, it can be for the best and can also be beneficial to the one who was rejected even if they don’t realise it at the time, or even until much later. My advice to anyone in that situation would be to first and foremost take on board whatever feedback the vocations director / committee provides. Secondly, to pray and discern God’s will for their life. Thirdly, rejection by one diocese / order doesn’t (depending on the reasons) necessarily rule somebody else out for good. Applying to another diocese / order soon after may result in another rejection, however applying after some time may well result in a different outcome. Above all else, it’s vital that anyone in this position remains open to God’s will for their life and submissive to His will.

Thank you, InThePew. Your post is well thought-out and appreciated.

I do see one point of disagreement though: the notion that what God wants will be found in the decision of the vocations committee. This gives them the “voice of God”, and that is wrong. Again, it goes back to what I found in the meaning of the phrase, “Many are called, few are chosen” - God calls, men choose. And while certain vocation directors and committees do have great insight and make the right call on rejecting unqualified candidates, not every order or diocese is so blessed. Mine certainly is not.

My advice given above is not meant for those truly not worthy of a vocation, but rather for anyone rejected and is completely bewildered as to why. The rejected candidate supports the Church and the teachings, has been active in the parish, is well-regarded by the community, and passed the psychological evaluation. Many times, it is not the candidate, it is the people in the process with agendas. And the real answer is never given to the one rejected. This was the case with the one person on this board who ended up leaving the Church over his rejection, and it is also the case in my experience (though I will not leave).

Our final advice is shared in common though - the need to move on and find where God can use you for His work and glory. It is indeed very hard to let go and walk forward again, but it must be done. To know “it was not you” helps greatly in the healing process.

“InThePew” was able to say what I was going to say. If the vocation is real and was meant by God it would and will happen. Whether you were meant to try again, in a different arena (i.e. different diocese, different Religious Order, etc.) only God knows and hopefully eventually you will be able to determine the best fit.

If there are political reasons behind the refusal, it isn’t like those political things will go away once you become a member. If you still feel called, expand your search, try again somewhere else. Research other possibilities, research other callings. Many people that I know that were turned down the first time now see God’s hand in it and feel blessed where they finally found a home.

If you just give up, jump ship, after one “refusal” then the calling wasn’t real. God sometimes puts up roadblocks in our path to see our resolve. Roadblocks don’t magically disappear once you found your vocation.

There are two problems here, though. First, a refusal will lead to a “blackballing”. If you have been rejected, it will stay with you. A question that always comes up is “have you applied, or been rejected or dismissed, from a vocations program?” And if you answer yes, then you are done with that application.

Oh yes, before you answer - there are those who should be rejected and the committee and/or director were/was correct. But not always - and many good men and women have been rejected because they did not fit into the agenda of those making decisions.

And second, God may will all He wants, but in the end, mere men and women will use their own free wills to block the one called by God. I have learned this in my own experience and also in observing others personally. My evidence? “Goodbye Good Men”, by Michael Rose.I witnessed events like this - good men denied because they did not support certain agendas.

There is great naivety when someone says, “If God wills it, it will be done!” or “Well! There are two sides to every story!” - it would be nice to find out exactly what the other side is, for the rejected will never know.

Once more, my advice is for the hurting who are bewildered when rejected for no reason. It happens, and I hope they come to accept that “it is them, not you”.

Not naivety, it’s called trust in God. If God will it, it will happen. Will it happen the exact way you want it to happen. No. If you apply to diocese A, and for some reason they turn you down, if you still feel called, apply to diocese B, C, and D. Yes you should be open about the fact you were turned down. The new dioceses should find out why you were turned down. If it is because of the situations like the book describes, there are dioceses where that isn’t the problem. If they all turn you down and you still feel called you should try other avenues, like the Religious Orders.

I personally know someone who applied to three dioceses, got turned down by all three. I personally know the reason he was turned down. He then applied to a Religious Order and was accepted. He now sees it as a blessing. He much prefers his life in the Order then what he would have had in a parish. He sees God’s hand in it.

God will make it happen if it was meant. If you give up right away, it was never meant in the first place. The common thread in all the Saints that overcame similar things was persistence. Whether it was to the same Order (i.e. Joseph of Cupertino), totally different Orders, or the diocese priesthood (St. John Vianney) varied, but they persisted.

I see it all the time in relation to the Secular Orders. Someone has issues joining say the Carmelites and in the process find the Benedictines. Or visa-versa. I have seen people feel they were called to the priesthood, and the soon after some major event causes them them to stop, they find the love of their life. Not trusting in God is a big mistake. Thinking you know what God has in store for you is another big mistake.

You may be hurting now and unable to see the goal through the clouds. But no matter what if God wills it, it will be done.

I am very careful not to use the word “rejected” when describing my experiences. I applied and was not accepted to 2 different religious communities. However, I do not like the word “rejected” because it conveys that they think I’m bad or garbage when that is definitely not the case. No one is rejected. They are simply told that it is not their vocation to either enter that particular community or they should look at other vocations. The chapter meetings that facilitate voting on a candidate pray very hard over the candidate before voting on a decision. It is not left up to their whim. Now, I’m not saying there is no room for error but we should believe that the final decision is what the Holy Spirit wants.

Believe me, I know how you feel. Before coming up with my positive mindset, I was quite depressed and angry about my supposed “rejection.” Why were other girls accepted but I was not allowed to try? Complicated question, simple answer. It wasn’t my vocation. :slight_smile:

Let me post something from one of the Sisters in the community I last applied to. She wrote it on her Facebook page and I think it could be of use here:
Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop trying to figure out precisely how we feel, stop deciding with our mind what we want our heart to feel. Sometimes we have to go with…whatever happens - happens.*

AMEN! Yes, men make mistakes but God is omnipotent. If He wants it to happen, NOTHING will stop Him.

I also wanted to add that a future saint, Pope John Paul II, was planning to enter the Carmelite order in his homeland of Poland. He was turned away by the friars and told to look into the diocesan priesthood. It is also worth mentioning that he eventually became a Third Order Carmelite and ALWAYS wore the Brown Scapular.


Great pic of a future saint!

Pretty cool shoes & hat.

Re. rejection - St. Augustine said ‘God loves us as if there were only one of us’. So, we, each of us is incredibly important to God; in fact, the most important person in the whole world - to God. God will be with you wherever you go & that is one’s vocation - to be with Him.

I once read that it was common for someone to be turned down from a religious order three times to test whether the vocation was real.

Once I wrote a letter to an order of nuns I admired, explaining why I thought I might have a possible vocation, and wondering if I could discern with them. The response I received back was stunning. It raised two or three different objections that I thought were just plain silly. But somehow, I had forgotten the tradition of being turned down three times, so I never wrote to the nuns again. I just figured, “Oh well, they’re nuns, they don’t seem to think I fit, so I will quietly abide by their decision. After all, it’s their Order and they must have their reasons, though I don’t understand the letter they wrote me.”

And here’s the kicker … I was unemployed at the time, but my employment status was never once mentioned by the nuns as being an obstacle … and this is a very good Order, in union with the Pope, that I would recommend to others. So there’s a very real possibility that I might have been accepted if I had only persisted … Well, if it were truly meant to be, that is.

Meanwhile, around that time, other things were happening in my life. Looking back, I can see why God did not have me become a nun at that time. And right around that time, the Lord called me to be, of all the crazy things, an artist. After I had prayed in a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Something I never knew I was, yet God seemed to inspire me with the thought “Go sell your pictures.” He did not say try to sell them, or fail at selling them, He said to sell them. So I trusted Him, and started selling pictures. Even though I’d never done it before and didn’t know what I was doing. I’m not a full-time artist, thankfully now I have a day job, but I still feel God wants me to pursue art and in fact I need to do more in that regard.

So while I understand the very real prejudice as described in the book “Goodbye Good Men” and believe I have encountered some of it myself at one point where I was discerning through a certain diocese which I shall not name, I would agree with those who say to try another diocese or Order. And ask Jesus what He wants you to do about the situation … and I don’t mean it in a flippant way.


Dismissal is different from “rejection”. Whenever a candidate has previously been in a seminary or religious community there’s a mandatory requirement to seek a report from their former rector / novice director, but this doesn’t apply if a candidate was ever accepted to begin with. Each bishop / superior / novice director makes up their own mind - the decision of one bishop, for example, doesn’t bind another; they can and do reach a different decision.

God may will all He wants, but in the end, mere men and women will use their own free wills to block the one called by God. I have learned this in my own experience and also in observing others personally. My evidence? “Goodbye Good Men”, by Michael Rose.I witnessed events like this - good men denied because they did not support certain agendas.

Obedience to a superior or bishop is of course an essential aspect of any vocation and this includes obedience to those acting in their name such as a vocations committee. It’s important to remember that each candidate is different and thus the reasons fir their acceptance / rejection are unique to them. Broadly speaking however, rigidity (that is an unwillingness or consider opposing views) in a candidate can be a reason for rejection, as can a lack of pastoral sensitivity. Sometimes however a candidate can just have a terrible interview. I’m not saying that what you’ve referred to and what’s described in Rose’s book is inaccurate but at the same time these are limited examples. Rose in particular will have selected particular examples for inclusion and only those examples which support his argument. That’s not to say that the book is inaccurate but just that it carries with it a particular bias (as all books do) and needs to be considered in light of that. Ultimately, what’s true of one seminary or order at one particular time cannot be said to be universally true.

There is great naivety when someone says, “If God wills it, it will be done!” or “Well! There are two sides to every story!” - it would be nice to find out exactly what the other side is, for the rejected will never know.

Once more, my advice is for the hurting who are bewildered when rejected for no reason. It happens, and I hope they come to accept that “it is them, not you”.

Trusting in God and surrendering ourselves to His will lies very at the heart of our faith! Often we think that things happen for no reason, or that the reasons aren’t about us but “them” - in such situations however, we’re putting up barriers between ourselves and God, shutting ourselves off from listening to Him speaking in our hearts. Remaining open to conversing and conversion is essential if we are to grow in our faith and allow ourselves to be conformed to His will. Yes, rejection sucks! I know, I’ve been there! Feeling hard done by isn’t going to help though - if anything, it’s just going to make things worse.

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