Q: How do I know if I have a religious vocation?
God lives within us, and though many things call to us from outside us, it is from within that we identify those things to which God is calling us.
Every person has a vocation from God that is planted in his or her very being. God made us, and calls each of us according to who we are. To know our life calling (a vocation to marriage, a vocation to religious life, a vocation to the single life) we need to learn to listen to the deepest desires of our hearts. A spiritual director or a wise and faith-filled person can help us do that.
Basic requirements for joining a religious community are that you:
- Have reasonably good health
- Are a practicing Catholic
- Are not bound by commitments or obligations (e.g., married, heavy debts, must support dependent parents or children, etc.) that would prevent you from giving your life in that way
- The Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province, receive women between 20 and 40 years of age, but may consider others.
Q: What are the signs of a religious vocation?
Some signs of a religious vocation include:
- Finding joy in prayer
- An appreciation of solitude and quiet prayer
- A desire to belong to and to serve God with one’s whole life
- A desire to serve God by serving others
- A readiness to share your life with other persons with similar values and goals
- A persistent feeling that you are called to religious life
- A persistent attraction to religious life
(Used with permission of St. Anthony Messenger Press)
Q: Can religious have their own car or other things?
Religious make vows to God, usually vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in the context of being members of a religious community.
Through their vow of poverty, the members of the community give up private ownership and, instead, own everything in common. Their needs are provided by the community. If they need a car for their own use, it will be one that belongs to the community, made available for their use. Each community has its own procedures for how this is carried out.
Q: If I entered a religious community, could I get married and have children?
Persons who become religious priests, sisters or brothers give their whole lives to God. One of the ways they do this is to make a vow of chastity to God, which is a vow to not marry or have sex. As they grow in deep love of God and of other people, they become very fulfilled
Q: If I take a vow of obedience, would I lose my freedom?
The basic meaning of obedience is to seek to do what God wants. It is very freeing to seek out how God is leading you and to act accordingly. A religious makes decisions while conscious of being a member of the community, just as a married person makes decisions while conscious of being part of a family. Major decisions are made with other community members, according to the customs of the particular community. Just as in a good marriage, making decisions together in religious life enhances rather than minimizes freedom.
Q: If I entered your community, who would decide what my ministry would be?
As in most religious communities, the Sisters of Providence have great respect for the gifts and talents of each person. We also are mindful of the needs around us and in our world. The individual sister and a sister on the provincial Leadership Team decide together where God is calling the sister to minister.
Q: Would there be a way to try out religious life before I made a commitment?
Arrangements are easily made through the vocation director to stay with a group of sisters for a shorter or longer period of time (a weekend, a week, a month) to see and experience living as a religious to help you discern whether to apply to enter. Often, these visits are called Come & See experiences.
The church wants to make sure that individuals have sufficient time to experience and understand the call to religious life before making a permanent commitment, so there is a process of preparation leading first to temporary vows and eventually to final vows.
If you were to decide to enter, you would have two to three years of learning to live religious life, with freedom to leave at any time. Then you would make temporary vows for three to six years before making final vows.
Q: If I feel I might have a religious vocation, what should I do?
Learn all you can about religious life. Talk to a religious sister, brother or priest. Read about religious life. Ask for information from a vocation director. Some good resources include:
- Vision Vocation Network
- Giving Voice: The Voices of Younger Women Religious
- A Nun’s Life
- Global Sisters Report
Q: How free would I be to have my family come to visit, and to visit or travel with them?
In most religious communities, visiting with family is valued. Each community has its own customs and basic considerations in regard to how this is lived out.
Q: What would happen with my bank account and/or other properties if I entered?
This varies from one community to another. At the time of temporary vows, you would renounce the administration and personal use of what you own and designate someone to administer it for you. In addition, you would make a last will and testament regarding present properties and any future inheritance. From that time on, any earnings would become earnings of the community.