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Cloisters For Older Vocations?

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Hello everyone.

 

I am becoming increasingly attracted to the Cloister. This was something I did not expect. I was very interested in the Redemptoristines but I am somewhat old for them.

I am in the United Kingdom and wondered if anyone knew of any Enclosed Orders that would accept older applicants (early 50s)? I know the Visitation Nuns would and Wolverhampton Carmel. I don't feel called to the Poor Clares but I would consider Ireland or Europe - I don't speak any other languages well, but could learn.

 

Thanks!  xx

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Posted · Report post

Nice to know...one is not alone...feeling drawn to the religious life ...Mid~ Life! :-)

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Holding you in my prayers that you find a community that fits both ways!

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Nice to know...one is not alone...feeling drawn to the religious life ...Mid~ Life! :-)

 

You are most certainly not alone - I'm another oldie.

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Nail down your spirituality first. All the links in the world wont help until that happens.

I HIGHLY suggest that you make a retreat with the Visitandines. They can help you with discernment and you can observe the workings of a real monastery.

Here is our UK site: http://cloisters.tripod.com/vocations_uk/

And our UK group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/catholic_vocations_uk_europe/

Blessings,
Gemma

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The thing you need to realise is that age is not really the problem. Yes, it appears to be the problem but it isn't. It is just one more way God helps us to discern. I am 60 years old and have been actively discerning for the past 6 years, since I was 54. There have been communities that have told me I am too old for them, communities that others have told me accept older vocations - and at first I wondered why they would say no to me and not to someone else of the same age. Over time I have come to realise that God uses a variety of ways to guide us into the place He has prepared for us, and this includes our age, our health, our country and/or language, etc. And sometimes there are other factors that affect a community's decision, but all of these are simply tools that God uses for our good.

 

First, get to know yourself and what attracts you to specific expressions of religious life. For example, you say that you now feel an affinity to cloistered life. So what about cloistered life attracts you, and in what way? Is it the poverty of Poor Clares? The contemplation of Carmelites? The hospitality of Benedictines? WOrk your way through all of the cloistered charisms - there are many. Ask if you want a newer community or an older one. You get the picture.

 

Then, discuss all this with a spiritual director - an experienced one, and preferably one who knows a little bit about religious life from either having lived it or studied different ones. Don't try to find all the answers online or through forums. Pray a lot and ask God to guide you - discern the workings of the Holy Spirit within your soul - because God is directing you in this very important life choice. If you aren't sure of the spirituality or charism then it might be time to visit a few places (without mentioning to them that you are discerning at this stage - this is just the investigation to help you understand your own spirituality).

 

Finally, when it is time to get serious (and this could take awhile), spend a little time with a particular community, getting to know them from the outside. There are different ways to do this. And you can write to me via email if you need more help with this. sponsajesus at gmail dot com.

 

The reason I advise this path instead of just flooding communities with letters saying, 'Hi, I am old, do you take women like me?' is that I have done it (well, maybe not exactly in those words but you get my meaning) and it doesn't work well. God can still use this approach, and has done so for me despite all odds, but it isn't the best way. Think about it. If you wanted to apply to a college or university, you put a little thought and time and research into it before actaully applying (well I did anyway). Not only do you have to be acceptable to them, but they have to be acceptable to you. Otherwise, the 'marriage' might not last, and you will end up outside again, wondering what happened and feeling like a failure no matter how hard you tried. And you will always be a failure in some people's eyes anyway after that. I can't tell you the number of nasty comments I have received from so-called 'nice' people who have kindly explained to me that I have no vocation because I wasn't able to persevere in a really abusive situation. Nevermind. We move on. But if you can find your home the first time out - so much the better. Trying to keep doing this discernment stuff 5 or 6 years down the track isn't as easy as it is when one first starts out. And every year is another year older...

 

And a fact of life - it IS hard for older women in religious life. It is also hard for younger women in religious life - for different reasons. But for each age, there are things that are difficult and things that are easy. Your age is just one of the factors so don't let it become the focus of your discernment.

 

So why do I say it isn't about age? Because it's about God. If He wants you in religious life, and if you don't give up, then it will happen. The trick is to determine if it is a real call or not, and only you can do that. But if you are sure, then what it takes is that same thing that it takes to succeed in religious life, a deep and personal love for Jesus and a commitment to keep trying as long as is humanly possible. But essential to that commitment is being in the right place, the place God has prepared. If you find your home, then everything will contrive to help you in your vocation, most especially your sisters. A real religious community is full of love and mutual upbuilding, helping each other to live in God every day. I warn against entering a community just because they accept older women - there is more involved in this that just finding any place that will take anyone.

 

Ok, so maybe I sound preachy here - sorry if I do. I'm just writing from years of experience in actually living in the trenches. You will, no doubt, have to have your own experiences and fall down a few times and get up again. But I just wanted to let you know it is possible. I will certainly keep you in my prayers and ask God to guide you in the direction of the home that He has prepared for you. But please believe me, it isn't about age. It's about God. He lifted St Rita up and put her inside the monastery - he can do the same for you (although He might not make it quite so dramatic for you :) ). Nothing is impossible for God. Find your spirituality, then your community, then take time to get to know them. Miracles do happen.

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Posted · Report post

Nunsense, I wish I could give you props. Such a good post. 

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No worries Nunsense! I appreciate all the experianced advice one can offer! It's difficult out there as you very well know! All media...seem to promote Vocations geared to the young'uns....and keep on the down low, that God could possibily consider those of us consideration to a religious vocation even in the second half of our lives. If it wasnt for people like Gemma and PM and same like minded and hearted people (of all ages) it would be so difficult to find info and get support. Yes I did mention it to my pastor about speaking to a a SD...all he said was.."They are hard to find!" That was it I swear...Washington state IS NOT enriched with abundance of religious life (yes Spokane,Shaw Island,Shoreline) here. It seems the migration of the religious went to Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois,Ohio,New York...What happened to Oregon,Idaho? It's a different topic. Sorry for the highjack! My off point was visiting communities that would consider older discerners here in the states...are most likely either in the middle or on the East Coast from where I am. Lord help women from Alaska!

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nikita - I am supposed to be doing some transcript work right now so am playing hookey a little in taking time to respond here but since I could almost guarantee that this point would come up, I have already thought about what I would say to it. Finding a spiritual director is a bit like finding a community - God does it. Your job is to pray to Him and ask Him if He could find one for you, and then to take the necessary steps patiently and trusting that He will give to those who ask. Didn't Jesus tell the Apostles that if they only had enough fiath, they could tell the mountain to get up and move?

 

I don't care what state you are in or where you live, God isn't limited by distance any more than He is limited by age. There just might be a retired priest settled somewhere in your area. In fact I have run into some on the Shaw Island ferry! And there are already two communities of nuns on Shaw Island by the way - and if neither of them can provide spiritual guidance than they might know the names of some people who can. First you could check with the Benedictine nuns, but there are also two Mercy nuns who recently moved to the island from Michigan I think and they both seemed lovely and might either be able to offer advice or suggest someone who can. The new priest at Our Lady of the Rock is a SOLT priest who is there for a year and he might be able to help or suggest someone who can. He was a Novice Master at SOLT. There are also Carmelites in Seattle who are very nice and they might be someplace to start asking for advice.

 

Just because you don't want to enter a particular community doesn't mean that they can't be of some help to you. When I first went back to England, I had no hope of re-entering Carmel at Wolverhampton but I asked the Novice Mistress (who was my Prioress when I was there) if she would just give me vocational guidance. Over time she was the one who suggested I might try again there. God is not limited by our ages, distance or even our ideas. Give the Holy Spirit a little room to work in you, and a little time as well.

 

Trust, and then trust and then trust again. Faith can move a mountain, faith can find a spiritual director. Don't put up obstacles that are really only a lack of faith and trust in God. There is no place on earth where He can't find you or help you to find someone to help you.

Edited by nunsense
Eowyn, Immanuel and Golden Years like this

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Beautiful posts, Nunsense.  The wisdom you've gained from your experience is a gift to us all. You will be missed when you return to Carmel.

 

nikita92:  I too am older (65) and at first thought that was keeping me from God's call.  But it's turned out, as Nunsense has said, that God was using that (and other 'obstacles') to direct me and gently guide me to where he wanted me.  It's a temptation to focus on the obstacles, but if we do that, they can loom large and blind us to the possibilities...possibilities put there specifically for us by God.  He has a plan and a place for each of us ('though it may not be what we imagine...it will be better).  If we trust and surrender to Him, He will guide us there.  In this, there is no doubt.  He did it for Nunsense.  He did it for me.  He'll do it for you.

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Thank you for the words of encouragment! Im just following what has been brought to my attention...and he hasnt let us since! Blessing to you!! ;-)

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alsotry St Scholastica's Priory (Benedictine and conservative) in Petersham, MA USA

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I meant to say...left ME!! Btw-..I was accepted (financial scholarship)for a womens silent retreat this weekend ( Archbishop Brunett retreat center just outside of Seattle) with Sister Joyce Cox BVM as guest speaker. Im really excited

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There’s also the Poor Clare nuns in Wappinger’s Falls, New York, U.S.A.: http://artyswebdesign.netfirms.com/poorclare/index.html (Unfortunately, this isn’t a really great website, but it at least has their contact information.) They are a lovely group of Sisters, and I know they’re open to 40+ vocations.

 

This particular monastery isn’t especially “traditional,” and their lifestyle is not as austere as many of the more well-known Poor Clare Colletine monasteries. For example, the Sisters wear modified habits and shoes, eat meat, and don’t have a grille in their parlor.

 

But, they are faithful to the magisterium, they love the Church, and in addition to Mass and the Divine Office they also have two full hours of Eucharistic Adoration every day.

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Just got back from my retreat this afternoon. It was very peaceful and insightful! I just wanted to let everyone know, that I wrote down the places that were suggested and also Nunsense Thank you for opening my eyes and for the suggestions. I guess because of only the few communities that I am aware of (around here) wouldnt take older vocations..I didnt think to at least ask for some guidence or imput from them. I will now! ;)

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Just got back from my retreat this afternoon. It was very peaceful and insightful! I just wanted to let everyone know, that I wrote down the places that were suggested and also Nunsense Thank you for opening my eyes and for the suggestions. I guess because of only the few communities that I am aware of (around here) wouldnt take older vocations..I didnt think to at least ask for some guidence or imput from them. I will now! ;)

 

nikita92, if you need any help looking up more communities, please let me know!  I am a wiz at research and I LOVE doing vocation research.  :)

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I would suggest that you figure out where you belong rather than figuring out who might accept you based on your age.  If you're in the right place, acceptance may come.

 

I base this on a friend of mine who joined the Poor Clares.  The monastery she joined states that they don't accept women over 35.  She's 20 years over that and they accepted her.

 

As she went through RCIA she discovered the Poor Clares and fell in love with them.  She definitely felt called to their way of life and to the particular monastery.  She talked with them and they were willing to talk with her but made no promises.  After she was received into the Church they told her she had to wait two years before they would even consider her.  During that time she continued to go to Mass with them and talk with them from time to time.  They encouraged her to visit other monasteries which she did, but was certain about where she belonged.

 

Ultimately they accepted her and she is now a novice. 

 

It was clearly a good match even though she didn't meet their ideal requirements.  But that was where she belonged and everyone could see it.

 

I see people suggesting that this group of Benedictines or that group of Dominicans or some other group of Carmelites accept older vocations.  And that's nice, but if you're called to be a Poor Clare those others don't matter.  If you're called to be a Benedictine, then keep knocking on their door, not their Domnican neighbors just because they'll let you in.

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I would suggest that you figure out where you belong rather than figuring out who might accept you based on your age.  If you're in the right place, acceptance may come.

 

I base this on a friend of mine who joined the Poor Clares.  The monastery she joined states that they don't accept women over 35.  She's 20 years over that and they accepted her.

 

As she went through RCIA she discovered the Poor Clares and fell in love with them.  She definitely felt called to their way of life and to the particular monastery.  She talked with them and they were willing to talk with her but made no promises.  After she was received into the Church they told her she had to wait two years before they would even consider her.  During that time she continued to go to Mass with them and talk with them from time to time.  They encouraged her to visit other monasteries which she did, but was certain about where she belonged.

 

Ultimately they accepted her and she is now a novice. 

 

It was clearly a good match even though she didn't meet their ideal requirements.  But that was where she belonged and everyone could see it.

 

I see people suggesting that this group of Benedictines or that group of Dominicans or some other group of Carmelites accept older vocations.  And that's nice, but if you're called to be a Poor Clare those others don't matter.  If you're called to be a Benedictine, then keep knocking on their door, not their Domnican neighbors just because they'll let you in.

 

I wish I could give this props.  If God wills it - it will happen.

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This is wonderful. But sadly finding a convent that is even willing to talk with you if you are outside their age range is hard.

I know this as I have contacted a few convents and started communication only to get a brick wall when it comes to age. The conversation suddenly stops.

I can understand why, especially when so many convents have older sisters they have to care for already, but it is very painful when you have started to fell attracted to the Convent.

I have had this happen a few too many times, so now I ask up-front. How can they get to know you and see if you are genuinely called when you cannot even visit due to your age?

There are some lovely Convents out there that consider women based on their merits alone. To be honest I cannot see myself being happy anywhere that sets strict age limits anyway, as I firmly believe God calls all types, all ages. Therefore I think I would be unsuited to a convent that sees age as a problem.

 

 

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Lil' Nun, I see you are in the UK. Have you looked at the beautiful Poor Clare Colettine monastery at Hawarden? In their Frequently Asked Questions they have one on age:

 

 

What is the best age to enter?
When God calls you!

 



So I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't turn you away when they hear how old you are. :P Their site is very helpful for vocation discernment even if you don't end up contacting them - have a look round.

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I'm going to make a suggestion - anyone up for a yahoo group for us oldies?  

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This is wonderful. But sadly finding a convent that is even willing to talk with you if you are outside their age range is hard.

I know this as I have contacted a few convents and started communication only to get a brick wall when it comes to age. The conversation suddenly stops.

 

I wonder if things might be different if you got to know the community and they got to know you first.

 

Again, looking at how things happened with my friend...

 

Before she was even received into the Church, she started attending daily Mass at the Poor Clare monastery.  They got used to seeing her there before there was ever a conversation about her entering.  When she did talk with the abbess (I believe that's who it was) there was already the start of a relationship.

 

Even if the convent or monastery wasn't close enough for you to be able to attend Mass or a prayer time, I wonder if you might go on a retreat for a few days and visit that way.  Just as a way of getting to know each other in a more casual way before you pursue a vocation with them.

 

And maybe I'm completely off!  This is just a suggestion.

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I'm going to make a suggestion - anyone up for a yahoo group for us oldies?  

 

Yes! :)

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