Why Not Older Vocations?


#1

ATeutonicknight posted a great link of Brother David Mary's opinion on older vocations.
Older Vocations

On the other side of the spectrum is this magical cut off age. Take a peek through a thousand religious communities and one thing that you will inevitably find is “over 35 need not apply”.
There is a real biased against older vocations. Some communities are a bit nicer about it and will close you out at 40. I’m not talking about these crazy wild orders. I’m talking about the traditional, habit wearing, rosary praying communities. Somewhere and somehow these communities decided that older vocations are just plain no good. Quite frankly, that attitude is contrary to the traditions of our Church.

I feel very free in saying that such an attitude and disposition is contrary to tradition because the history of our Church is filled with saints who were “older”. Take St. Rita as an example. She had been married, had children and she did just fine as an Augustinian nun. Even our own country in the U.S. clings to an older vocation in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, again, a widow and mother, who founded a religious order of sisters. In our own Franciscan family we have the venerable Ortalana, mother of St. Clare of Assisi. What’s wrong with our culture that it has so influenced traditional religious orders into believing that an older vocation is unwanted.

The mentality comes from the thought that an older vocation is more difficult to form. They are “set in their ways”. I have heard this said, but I have not seen it to be true. My experience has been that an older vocation fares better in religious life then someone in their twenties. An older vocation has been through the storms of life. Life has taught them that they have to work hard, they have to be generous and they must be pliable and formable if they wish to survive in the world. What I learned in my early twenties, an older vocation brings to religious life with them. To put it quite plainly, an older vocation has been through the struggles of life and has learned to roll with the punches. They know how not to make a mountain out of a molehill. Age has given them the wisdom not to sweat the small stuff.

St Francis never had a problem with older vocations and so, following his example and express will in the Rule of 1223, we have no problem with older vocations. My guess is that St. Francis had no problem with an older vocation because God doesn’t. God did not say to the 80 yr old Moses at the burning bush “Would have loved to send you to Egypt and rescue the people, too bad you’re so old” NO! Abraham is 97 and Sarah is 87 when Isaac is born. I can go on and on. But I think you get my point. God does not limit Himself to an age bracket. I firmly believe that communities with age limits have unknowingly embraced a culture that teaches that the “old” have nothing to offer society. By putting on false age brackets religious orders have unknowingly put God in a box and told Him not to call anyone over 40. And, they have also unknowingly told those over 40 that they have no full self-gift to offer to God. They tell these people, unknowingly and unintentionally, that they are spent and only have volunteer work to give to God. Nonsense!!

What if someone enters community at 65 and dies at 70? Don’t those 5 years mean something to God? Is this person not allowed to stand before God in judgment and say, “ I gave my all in the end”? Their consecration of themselves to God does count! Even if they are in vows only for an hour of a day. It has worth.

Lets face the fact that we now live in a culture that leaves people without God for many years. Or, people are confused about faith and their calling. They may have spent much time in life being lost and confused. Often times today, people, after spending 40 years in dissipation, finally discovers the awesome love of Christ and feels that call to give Him their all.

Please, if you are over 40, don’t think for one minute that you are too old for God! On the contrary, you are never too old. How else should you spend the rest of your life? What else do you expect to get out of life? You know God is calling you. Do not let these well intentioned but misinformed groups turn you away because of your age. I believe in the public sector they call that “age discrimination”. Don’t give up! If a community won’t take down that false age barrier then take that as a sign from God that that community is not for you. Seek out orders that will open their arms to a late vocation. I mean this even to those of you who are widowed, annulled or just plain late in getting around to your discernment. God knows no age. God’s timing is His will. If He wills to call you now, at your age, don’t give up the search!

I really pray that someday we will be freed from the utilitarian mentality that makes us value people by what they have to offer to society. That mentality that says, ”what use will they be?” What a horrible way to view the human person. Yet, even the most orthodox of religious and priests have it so deep within them they don’t even realize they are doing it. We really have to get back to seeing people again. And, not just “people”, “persons”, seeing each individual person for who they truly are. Like the good Lord, we have to do our best and see the beauty in each person and bring that out. Even if they are over 40. Maybe, the only good that they will be able “to do” is suffer. If that person, who suffers in later years, understands the dignity and mystery of human suffering, and, comprehends and knows how to offer that suffering as a “sweet smelling sacrifice”, then they are more “useful” to the order than their greatest preacher, teacher or evangelist

So why not older vocations? Is this age discrimination? Is there a fear that young people won't join religious orders if there are too many older people?


#2

The sad honest truth why that is, especially for a Diocese, is mainly because a younger person can give you more years of service than someone who is older. Do I agree with this? no but almost any Order would prefer someone who is in their twenties than someone in their 40's.


#3

Isn’t it just being practical? I think it’s a shame that orders do not take on older candidates, but healthcare is a major issue in the USA. Many Orders don’t have the resources to take care of older candidates especially those who join later in life and have no contributed to the health of the community. Imagine how many people might join an order because they failed to save for retirement?

I, for one, would consider becoming a priest at 50, but there’s nowhere to go. I’ve made a lot of money in my life and am set up for retirement nicely, so I wouldn’t be a burden. However, I seem to be in the minority.


#4

An interesting post, for certain. I have tried for weeks to see if anyone mature...or young, would be interested in forming a new group for mature, religious minded woman. Some come and look at my group, read and leave. I am a conservative, traditionalist, older person. It seems that older persons do want religious life, but often on their terms. When they see that I am"older" and have my own health issues...they are gone. Christ said, "Come, follow me." Pray that I can see and answer to the will of God and decerne what is best in this


#5

Older people often have debts, relationships, dependents, property, mortgages and health issues that make things a little complicated.

An order (etc) doesn't want to find itself burdened by someone's debt, dependents, ex wives, illnesses.

That being said, there are some religious bodies that do accept older vocations.

BTW Francis invented his way of life, and changed the paradigm of religious life in order to meet the challenges and demands of the society he found himself in. Perhaps it's time for a new paradigm.


#6

Because it's simply less economical. That's the cold truth.


#7

Yes, I can see the practical side. But since 40 is the new 30, 30 is the new 20 etc :D, why not accept people who are middle-aged? People in that age bracket are living longer, healthier lives and will probably have more saved and more to contribute to a community (if we're talking about practicality).


#8

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:270324"]
Older people often have debts, relationships, dependents, property, mortgages and health issues that make things a little complicated.

An order (etc) doesn't want to find itself burdened by someone's debt, dependents, ex wives, illnesses.

[/quote]

Right and all that should be apparent during the application process, at which point the person can be declined admission.

BTW Francis invented his way of life, and changed the paradigm of religious life in order to meet the challenges and demands of the society he found himself in. Perhaps it's time for a new paradigm.

I agree.

But I do wonder if younger folks would be turned off if there were older folks in Religious communities as well.

What say you, younger folks?


#9

[quote="Truegrit, post:4, topic:270324"]
An interesting post, for certain. I have tried for weeks to see if anyone mature...or young, would be interested in forming a new group for mature, religious minded woman. Some come and look at my group, read and leave. I am a conservative, traditionalist, older person. It seems that older persons do want religious life, but often on their terms. When they see that I am"older" and have my own health issues...they are gone. Christ said, "Come, follow me." Pray that I can see and answer to the will of God and decerne what is best in this

[/quote]

Truegrit, one also chooses a religious community based on their charism. What is their purpose? It can't be only based on age group. I'm not speaking specifically about your group because I don't think I have seen it posted.


#10

[quote="CatholicGuy22, post:2, topic:270324"]
The sad honest truth why that is, especially for a Diocese, is mainly because a younger person can give you more years of service than someone who is older. Do I agree with this? no but almost any Order would prefer someone who is in their twenties than someone in their 40's.

[/quote]

But why do they not keep youth in mind when picking a pope? It would make sense to do that. So that they have more vigor, longevity, etc....


#11

[quote="DaddyGirl, post:10, topic:270324"]
But why do they not keep youth in mind when picking a pope? It would make sense to do that. So that they have more vigor, longevity, etc....

[/quote]

Oh my goodness exactly! I have wanted to ask that for the longest! It doesn't take 70 years to gain at least some wisdom and experience.


#12

When I was in the religious life I was in my 20's and 3 or 4 men were in their 30's and the rest (60 of them) were over 50!

I had nightmares that I would spend many decades looking after a bunch of old men. It scared me. It's not the reason I left, but it was there.


#13

[quote="TrueLight, post:11, topic:270324"]
Oh my goodness exactly! I have wanted to ask that for the longest! It doesn't take 70 years to gain at least some wisdom and experience.

[/quote]

Totally, True-L!

Even if the pope was, say, sixty--soooo much better.
I know for myself, in my forties, I'm already losing all my darn faculties and just wanting to slow down--LOL. Sometimes, you see the popes starting out at a very old age and it seems too much for someone at that age to have such a big responsibility and do so much work.
Did the age thing somehow become a...tradition?


#14

[quote="Truegrit, post:4, topic:270324"]
An interesting post, for certain. I have tried for weeks to see if anyone mature...or young, would be interested in forming a new group for mature, religious minded woman. Some come and look at my group, read and leave. I am a conservative, traditionalist, older person. It seems that older persons do want religious life, but often on their terms. When they see that I am"older" and have my own health issues...they are gone. Christ said, "Come, follow me." Pray that I can see and answer to the will of God and decerne what is best in this

[/quote]

Fear no more, as this very same Priest, whom is co-founder of the Franciscan Brothers Minor, has a group for women called the Franciscan Sisters Minor. They are located in Fort Wayne, along with the Friars, so I'm sure that if you contact them you will be accepted. They have no academic requirements (Yes, you read that correctly. No high school diploma or G.E.D. needed), and they are a very traditionalist group. From what I can tell, Father David Mary is just about the only true Conservative from New York. :p

But for the Sisters, they do not have a website. However, just go to franciscanbrothersminor.com and you will find a separate page for the Sisters with their contact information. They mostly stay within their Community and pray, but they do sometimes go out and help the Friars with their work.


#15

[quote="TrueLight, post:8, topic:270324"]
Right and all that should be apparent during the application process, at which point the person can be declined admission.

I agree.

But I do wonder if younger folks would be turned off if there were older folks in Religious communities as well.

What say you, younger folks?

[/quote]

Definitely not. I find the older Friars to be a place where I can go and ask for advice on anything, and they almost always have a great answer. They are good at giving guidance and they are always people to look up to. The younger generation always looks up to the older generation. Kids are always inspired by Friars in their twenties, but are turned off by Friars in their sixties, as they can't relate to them. Friars in their twenties look up to the ones in their sixties, etc. With age comes wisdom, knowledge, and a fascination for the new generation.


#16

[quote="DaddyGirl, post:13, topic:270324"]
Totally, True-L!

Even if the pope was, say, sixty--soooo much better.
I know for myself, in my forties, I'm already losing all my darn faculties and just wanting to slow down--LOL. Sometimes, you see the popes starting out at a very old age and it seems too much for someone at that age to have such a big responsibility and do so much work.
Did the age thing somehow become a...tradition?

[/quote]

I seriously thought you were one of the young 'uns.

Maybe I read "Daddy's little girl" anytime I see your name. :p


#17

I went on the website of the Franciscan Brothers Minor-what a great site! And what a great community, growing by leaps and bounds! And there are Sisters, too!

And good it is that they do not have an upper age limit-thank you, Father David Mary!

I sure wish I knew what God wants for me in my life. I'm 57, and I haven't the foggiest idea.

Whenever I see photographs and videos of good religious like these, I feel a pang of regret that I never went through with my youthful wish for religious life.

I'm sooo tired of 'chasing after the buck' [the dollar, that is, not the deer ;) :p]....I wish there was some way of consecrating what's left of my mortal years to God.

Seeing these happy religious leave me thinking how I wasted and frittered away my younger years....they are happy, while I languish in misery....

[BIG sigh] :(


#18

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:17, topic:270324"]
I went on the website of the Franciscan Brothers Minor-what a great site! And what a great community, growing by leaps and bounds! And there are Sisters, too!

And good it is that they do not have an upper age limit-thank you, Father David Mary!

I sure wish I knew what God wants for me in my life. I'm 57, and I haven't the foggiest idea.

Whenever I see photographs and videos of good religious like these, I feel a pang of regret that I never went through with my youthful wish for religious life.

I'm sooo tired of 'chasing after the buck' [the dollar, that is, not the deer ;) :p]....I wish there was some way of consecrating what's left of my mortal years to God.

Seeing these happy religious leave me thinking how I wasted and frittered away my younger years....they are happy, while I languish in misery....

[BIG sigh] :(

[/quote]

Don't be discouraged Barb. I'm sure you know that religious have their own issues too. It's not all smiles.

Sometimes I feel that I want to give my all to God. My whole life.

However, I still have minor kids and to lose constant contact with them would probably be very hard for me. I want to be there for them and hopefully, they will be there for me when I'm old.

This question is to everyone on this board. Is there such a thing as a Third Order that spends some of the time enclosed?

For example maybe 2 weeks or so out of the year or maybe some weekends, like those who are part of the Armed Forces Reserves? Within a few years, I could totally do 2 weekends, enclosed out of the month, living community life, doing chores, praying the office together, dressed in a habit.

Or maybe going out and doing street ministry in some sort of a habit. Kind of like a part-time nun.

I know. I sound pitiful even to myself.

Does this type of thing exist?


#19

There have always been reasons of age and health (and education) why people have been turned down from a particular order. I am very glad to see that Fr David Mary has put his monry where his mouth is, so to speak, and accepts older men in his order. I don't think he can speak to the requirements of other orders though.

All of the reasons given here of practicality are reasonable things for an order to consider. They also need to ensure that aspirants will fit into the work or charism of the order. If additional education or training is necessary, someone's age could preclude that.

The actual life/rule of the order can also preclude older vocations. For example going barefoot or limited diets or interrupted sleep. Yes, some older people would adapt fine to that. A particular order's experience may be different though.

Issues like the obedience that BrJReducation speaks of so eloquently can be a hinderance also. The ability to unquestioningly obey a superior who is 30 when you are 45 can be very difficult.

Part of the humility that religious life develops in people is that sense of obedience. If the only lesson we are going to recieve is the one that says "you may not apply", will we still learn from it?

TrueLight - have you looked at setting up a retreat schedule? Even if you don't end up a nun, taking the time to do a weekend a month at home and two weeks a year at a retreat center would still do wonders for your interior life! :D


#20

[quote="TrueLight, post:18, topic:270324"]
Don't be discouraged Barb. I'm sure you know that religious have their own issues too. It's not all smiles.

Sometimes I feel that I want to give my all to God. My whole life.

However, I still have minor kids and to lose constant contact with them would probably be very hard for me. I want to be there for them and hopefully, they will be there for me when I'm old.

This question is to everyone on this board. Is there such a thing as a Third Order that spends some of the time enclosed?

For example maybe 2 weeks or so out of the year or maybe some weekends, like those who are part of the Armed Forces Reserves? Within a few years, I could totally do 2 weekends, enclosed out of the month, living community life, doing chores, praying the office together, dressed in a habit.

Or maybe going out and doing street ministry in some sort of a habit. Kind of like a part-time nun.

I know. I sound pitiful even to myself.

Does this type of thing exist?

[/quote]

Well, the problem you find with wearing Habits part time is what Father David Mary explains here: franciscanbrothersminor.com/FBM/Discernment_Part_XII_Making_a_%22Habit%22_out_of_it.html As you can see, wearing it part time causes problems. It's like wearing a wedding ring part time.


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