FAQs About Religious Life

How do I know which community is best for me?

This is a matter of the heart, just like dating. You don’t try to date every guy or girl – you date the one you’re attracted to. Pick out a few communities you feel attracted to and take one step at a time in your discernment of them. Walk through the doors as they open. Remember it is a mutual discernment: it has to be right for you and it has to be right for them too. When you have found the right place, you’ll know it, you’ll feel at home.

What do I do if I have college debt?

Most communities require their candidates to be debt-free. There are organizations that were founded to help young people become debt-free so that they can enter religious life, such as Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations and Labouré Society.

What if my parents do not approve?

Oftentimes parents struggle with their child’s decision to pursue a religious vocation. Your parents have their own journey to make with this discernment process. Most parents, even those who struggle at first, are content to see that their child is happy and at peace. Ultimately though, you are not responsible for your parents’ feelings.

Will I be able to see my family?

Yes, most communities allow for family visits. The customs for this vary from community to community.

What about this feeling of unworthiness?

It is not helpful to your growth in the spiritual life to get caught up on the question of worthiness.  No one is worthy, period. God chooses as He wills. He alone is worthy. He is entitled to choose the weak and the lowly according to His own mysterious design.

What about sins of my past?

It is important to have had a conversion from the past life of sin and to have lived a virtuous life for an extended period of time in the world before attempting to enter religious life. Religious life can be compared to running a marathon. You don’t start out doing 26 miles, you start slow, you train, you work up to it.

What if I enter and then later decide that it isn’t for me? Can I leave?

The choice for the religious must be a free one. Every sister or brother should be encouraged to continue to discern anew at every step. Is this what God wants? Is this what I want? Can I do this? Often, profession of final vows doesn’t come until seven or more years in the community.  That gives you plenty of time to be certain.

If I give up marriage and children can I truly be happy?

The call to religious life requires the renunciation of marriage and children and this is a true sacrifice; however, you are not sacrificing any of your femininity or masculinity. You are called to live out and be a witness to the heavenly reality. You remind the world that our true love and spouse is God and share the joy and happiness that this brings.

What are the stages of becoming a sister or a brother?

The pre-novitiate stages vary from community to community. Most have a two-year novitiate which is the canonical beginning of religious life. After the novitiate comes First Profession of Vows which are renewed over several years before making Final Profession of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

What do sisters and brothers do every day?

Daily life consists of three “staples”: prayer, community, and apostolate (ministry). The daily schedule will vary from community to community but consists of Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, meals together, work, study, and recreation.