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Benedictus

Women's Orders!

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coralieprincess

That is one particular aspect of the SSVM organization which gives me pause. Each individual Sister is expected to raise money from her particular benefactors. Unless things have changed, there is a "target" for each Sister to raise for each month.

 

From my perspective that practice has a lot of potential for abuse. Obviously it is easier for Sisters from wealthier families to do this.  Sisters who come from poor families and cannot ask mom and dad to pony up might struggle to meet their target; they might be made to feel they are not "earning their keep." Biased formation might develop. Just so many ways it could turn into a mess.

 

I'm not saying any of this has EVER happened in any of the SSVM communities. But human nature being what it is, it seems like a less than prudent practice to me.  When I was a Sister we were actively discouraged from asking our families for ANYTHING. They could donate things but it was supposed to be entirely THEIR idea.
 

 

I know a former SSVM who attests that this is precisely what happened. She was in charge of accounting/bookkeeping in the convent, and saw a correlation between Sisters who raised a lot of money being "favoured" and treated better than Sisters who did not, in some cases money being a factor in whether these Sisters were allowed to stay at the convent.
 

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chasmi

I really don't like the sound of all of this.  And there are people here that criticize other orders...some of which have been in existence for centuries!!!  I caution young (and older) discerners...be careful!!!  I see on here that there are SO may young and inexperienced people entering these new communities...maybe for the wrong reason...a "cool or pretty habit"...they have become enamored with the community...whatever the reason.  I just want to caution everyone.  The world is a tough place and I fear that some of these people that have started these new communities are "tough" as well.  My prayers are with all of you in discernment...

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Benedictus

I know a former SSVM who attests that this is precisely what happened. She was in charge of accounting/bookkeeping in the convent, and saw a correlation between Sisters who raised a lot of money being "favoured" and treated better than Sisters who did not, in some cases money being a factor in whether these Sisters were allowed to stay at the convent.
 


This was just their perception, but maybe this was driven by necessity rather than desire. It's easy to be uncharitable and make judgements about other people's behaviour and intentions but It's worth being in mind that those who raise the money support those that don't.   But at the same time it's really important to see it from the institutes perspective  - finances are important to supporting a vocation in a new and financially precarious community.  If 90% of the people enter with no financial avenues available to help them then the whole community could collapse. It's sad on a spiritual level for new communities but it's a reality for them, unless they get a millionaire donor or something.  Until it gets more stable its likely that those with the finances will have more success at persevering with their vocation in these communities. I imagine that they tend to notice this trend or hope those with the money end up staying for the benefit of everyone else. The area that probably needs to improve is institutes making the financial situation and requirements clear at the start so the person joining is under no illusions about how the institute is funded generally and how their formation is covered in general. The person should also fully understand the implications of their vows on their freedom to acquire money, property and goods, especially once they take life vows. Do they understand that any legacy or property given to them after their perpetual vows should really be absorbed by their institute or given to someone else? All this should really be known before joining, as I think a few others have said.

 

I really don't like the sound of all of this.  And there are people here that criticize other orders...some of which have been in existence for centuries!!!  I caution young (and older) discerners...be careful!!!  I see on here that there are SO may young and inexperienced people entering these new communities...maybe for the wrong reason...a "cool or pretty habit"...they have become enamored with the community...whatever the reason.  I just want to caution everyone.  The world is a tough place and I fear that some of these people that have started these new communities are "tough" as well.  My prayers are with all of you in discernment...

I think your caution is right, but older orders suffer other problems as they mature. I'm sure some people do sometimes have romantic notions of religious life but it's unlikely, if this was the only attraction, that they'd last long in the religious life once there. I doubt anyone considers a religious life solely because of a 'cool habit' in much the same way people don't just marry for a cool wedding dress. I personally think the excitement and implications of taking a step in a positive direction means you talk about aesthetic things, it doesn't necessarily mean the whole motivation is shallow. 

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nunsense

I think your caution is right, but older orders suffer other problems as they mature. I'm sure some people do sometimes have romantic notions of religious life but it's unlikely, if this was the only attraction, that they'd last long in the religious life once there. I doubt anyone considers a religious life solely because of a 'cool habit' in much the same way people don't just marry for a cool wedding dress. I personally think the excitement and implications of taking a step in a positive direction means you talk about aesthetic things, it doesn't necessarily mean the whole motivation is shallow. 

 

 

You make such interesting points Benedictus. On the topic of aesthetics, I don't think it's really much different than how we are attracted to another person. We all have our own ideas of what is attractive to us, but in the end, the externals don't usually stop someone from falling in love or going into a convent that doesn't fulfill all their ideals.

 

And although I agree that romantic notions may not be the only attraction for discerners, I do think that sometimes there is a kind of idealism about religious life that can make it difficult when the reality is faced of human beings living together in community. The first time I met a mean nun in a convent, I have to admit I was shocked. I never went to a Catholic school run by sisters so I had this idealized vision of nuns before I entered. I hope I haven't become a cynic now - just a realist - convents are just like the world in that they have really good people in them, and some who are really not so nice. Learning to live in a community of human beings (not all saints) is the real challenge.

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TheresaThoma

I think the overall caution here is to be willing to have serious conversations with the community you are discerning with. Some of these questions I hadn't thought of needing to ask but now that they were pointed out I knew I needed to. A couple that come to mind is how does the community sustain itself financially? What about personal financial matters before and after vows? (I know some communities allow members to keep bank accounts and such open until vows) When does one get an official "say" in community matters (novice/temp vows/final vows?).

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nikita92
Question- if one doesn't have "family" nor friends when they enter into such a community,how does one acquire "benefactor(s)" and how are the "funds" "RAISED" by them? Isn't this just plain having "sugar daddies and mama's" financially supporting you in a round about way once you are "inside"?? You may have the vow of poverty... Yet if it is "donated" in your favor, I'm sure the Thanks but NO THANKS is ever uttered or heard in reply/or response to such a "GIFT"!! What about if I come from a fairly well to do family...or have a son/daughter that has entered...I'm sure alot of parents don't want to see their son or daughter struggling within their community and if they can.. would bestow upon them "gifts" from time to time! Should I be so wrong....

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ACS67

I think the overall caution here is to be willing to have serious conversations with the community you are discerning with. Some of these questions I hadn't thought of needing to ask but now that they were pointed out I knew I needed to. A couple that come to mind is how does the community sustain itself financially? What about personal financial matters before and after vows? (I know some communities allow members to keep bank accounts and such open until vows) When does one get an official "say" in community matters (novice/temp vows/final vows?).

Yes.  I agree.  Ask questions.  Ask a ton of questions.  This was one of the first questions I asked the Carmelites in Christoval, "How do you support yourself?"  Carmelites are mendicant therefore they rely mostly on donations from the faithful.  The Sisters do not have an "industry" like their brother hermits do in the same town.  However, the Order of Carmelites (O. Carm) have been around for a long time and they are well established financially and can provide for formation and other expenses.  I also asked, if I were accepted into the community, what I would need to bring.  Would I need health insurance? (no) Would I need to provide for my own personal items for the first 6 months to a year? (No) Would I keep my bank account and any personal property?  (If I wanted to I could, until solemn vows, it would be my choice).  I have found that if you don't ask these questions and others, many of the communities will not volunteer the information.  Not out of ill-will.  I think perhaps they just assume either you already know the answers or such and such an issue is not important to you. 

 

I understand these newer orders are not well established and therefore they may be asking a lot more of their postulants/novices than an older, more established community but I must say some of the requirements and the list of things that a postulant has to bring with her is just astounding to me, not to mention all the tests, physical and mental, sometimes 2-3 different priests references (I barely know my parish priest and he barely knows me because our parish is so large and he has so many other duties outside of the parish), 3-4, sometimes 5 character references from others, then all the personal items, many of which you have to go out and buy!  It can be overwhelming.  This element factored heavily in which community I would and could choose.  

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coralieprincess

Question- if one doesn't have "family" nor friends when they enter into such a community,how does one acquire "benefactor(s)" and how are the "funds" "RAISED" by them?...


I think people have to phone around and find anyone they know... whether it's their parish, neighbours, acquaintances.... But I'm sure it's also cases like that, that made it hard for some Sisters to raise the required funds: because they didn't have family to fall back on.

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Anselm

Am I the only one to whom the idea of sisters all having to raise money individually and a record being kept of 'who got what' both a little distasteful and divisive?

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Benedictus

Am I the only one to whom the idea of sisters all having to raise money individually and a record being kept of 'who got what' both a little distasteful and divisive?

From an accounts perspective I understand it. I can also understand this being something superiors may raise with a religious in new communities. I've read the same for new brother communities, raising money for priestly studies and formation by benefactors. But I don't think this should be used as a measure of competition or humiliation within that community (I don't personally know whether any do this intentionally or not, but I'd hope they don't. I'm not intending to join a new community so this isn't an issue, but would want to ensure I could raise the money before entering if I was)

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