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LilFlwr

Leaving Religious Life & Discerning Another Community

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LilFlwr

Several months ago I left my religious community and I feel very much still called to religious life. I spent the past months healing from my experience, but I feel ready to discern a community that is a good fit for me and me a fit for them. I recently contacted a community and they told me they hesitate to invite someone on their vocations discernment retreat that has been in a religious community previously. Is there an amount of time I have to wait to begin discerning a community again that is acceptable to other communities for them to even consider me? I have a spiritual director and he agreed with me that he feels I can begin to discern again now, but I'm afraid of receiving a similar response from another community that I did from the community that I recently contacted. Any advice, suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

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vee

Keep trying until you get a yes. I know being told no a million times hurts but keep knocking until you find that door that opens to wherever God is leading you!  I think an acceptable time between communities is 6-12 months or so.  

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Sister Leticia

LilfFlwr - welcome to Phatmass! 

Grieving and healing are personal processes, and there is no set time for moving from one stage to the next. In the case of leaving religious life, there are all sorts of variables, such as length of time in your community, the circumstances in which you left, how the transition has been and so on. 

That said, most communities would hesitate to engage with someone less than 6 or 7 months after leaving - and would probably prefer longer. I've known a couple of men and women who have rushed straight from one noviciate to another, and all that happened was that layers of unhealed anger/confusion/grief surfaced and led to their second (and swift) departure - which can be even more of a crushing experience.

I would add, too, that people can feel they've moved on when they haven't. I can still recall a woman who came to visit us once, many years ago, and talked, constantly, about the community she had left the previous year. She told us all about how and why she'd had to leave and so on, and if she asked us any questions about our charism or mission it was always in comparison with/relation to the other sisters. She thought she'd moved on and was ready to discern, but she clearly needed much longer. 

LilFlwr - you were probably too shocked when the sisters put you off, but it might be worth asking them why. Vocations personnel aren't perfect, and don't know it all - often they learn from hard experience. And if their experience is that someone who had recently left a community once came to a weekend and dominated the discussion and the other participants found this disruptive, then yes, they would hesitate to invite someone else in a similar situation. 

Also, it wasn't clear to me from what you wrote - have they shut the door or simply said "not yet"? 

Blessings on your listening and discerning and your journeying with God

 

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Nunsuch

The community with which I am associated has a policy of asking people who have been in a community before, or who are in a community but thinking about transferring, to wait at least a year (and, in the case of transfers, to go on exclaustration for at least a year). Of course, the discernment process itself is also lengthy, so it usually results in at least 2 years before someone formally affiliates with this congregation as an actual candidate. To be sure, most people interested would be engaging with the community, and with the vocation person, in more informal ways during that period....

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LilFlwr

I was only a Postulant with my former community, so for me when I spoke to the most recent community I only bought them up when asked about being in another community. I did not get into details as I very much want to move on and despite a negative experience there is no need for me to discuss them with others as I would never want to discourage anyone else who is a discerner as I want to promote a culture of vocations. The community that told me they hesitate to accept those from other communities did not really explain too much only that God took me out of my other community for a reason and I need to discern why, but I know why I am no longer there, but again did not feel it appropriate to explain in such details to this Sister because of the experience. They have a right to what they feel called to do as a community, and I accept that, and I am hopeful I will find another community that will at least give me a chance to discern with them.

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HollyDolly

I'm no expert of course. I had wanted to enter the convent, but my mother  had high blood pressure and later on a stroke and was paralyzed on one side. God had other plans for me apparently and I later took care of my late father.

I think  maybe  because of your unpleasant experience you need to wait a bit, I really do.

And if you do discern with another order and they ask why you left, tell them. Be honest.

You left as a postulant, which is far different from leaving as a full fledged sister who has already taken vows. Sometimes religious sisters do go from one community to another. Sometimes active sisters enter the cloister. If Jesus wants you back in the convent, I'm sure he will show you the way to persue.

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beatitude

LilFlwr, I think any community would expect you to be completely honest with them about why you had to leave your first community. This isn't the same as bad-mouthing them or gossiping. It's to give your future prioress/novice mistress an accurate picture of what your journey to date has been, so that they can understand and support you better. They're unlikely to go spreading what you tell them around the country. If you do try to pull the shutters down when they ask you about your past experiences, then they could easily see it as you hiding something or not having good insight into your situation, and you would be less likely to be accepted as a candidate.

 

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Chiquitunga

Keep staying hopeful LittleFlower! There is such a variety between communities and their policies for who they take, etc. I think 6 months to a year (maybe a year is better) is a good amount of time. I've known so so many people who have been in one community and ended up in another. It's very common I believe. I wish I could write out all of the examples here! (but typing from a phone lol) If God is calling you, He'll open the right door. I have heard of others down this path of trying to enter a second or third time who had to suffer many no's and misunderstandings first. Let yourself be more conformed to Jesus in this way, and keep going. I will keep you in prayer! 

Ps look up on Tan books, Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity - 2 books, one of her revelations from Our Lord, the other her biography. I highly recommend both. Her biography made me cry! She was in 3 communities before she found her final home (which was the 4th one). She was rejected by many. Her messages from Our Lord are extremely moving too.

 

Here are the links :)

https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/spiritual-legacy-of-sr-mary-of-the-holy-trinity-poor-clare-of-jerusalem-1901-1942.html

https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/life-message-of-sr-mary-of-the-holy-trinity.html

For a long time these were on sale. Check amazon and book finder.com for lower prices. :like2:

 

 

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MaeBern

LilFlwr, I was in the same boat as you this year. It was a difficult time leaving my old community. Last year (2016) is when I left. I still struggle now and then. I was a novice before I left (two years in my old community). After months of healing, I felt the same way as you. I wanted to enter Religious Life. I felt called. I was in Catholic counseling and my counselor agreed that I was ready. I agree with the other posts that already answered. It is good to be honest with other communities, not just for them but also for yourself. It helped me when I found a new community and also to move on. They were accepting of me and it was such a blessing to discern with a community that is accepting. I found it helped me to continue to move on from my negative experiences of Religious Life and also what I needed to work on as a person. I did not think I needed time at first but six months to me seems like a good amount of time from the old community. It all depends on the person. It took a while for a community to just let me come visit. I went through six communities before I found another community. It was so discouraging. Finally, I put everything in God's hands and our Lord Jesus led me to my new home. God knows what He is doing and I trust in Him. I just wanted to tell you not to give up. If God gave you a desire for Religious Life and you feel called, He has it all planned. Put everything in the basket and follow. It is easier said than done. I will be praying. God Bless!

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Francis Clare

LilFlwr, my heart aches for you.  But as a SD I've got to tell you that this is where some hard work begins.  Do you have a SD?  If so, good.  If not, try your hardest to find one.  You've got work to do!!!  If you're good friends with your pastor, I would advise you NOT to go to him for SD.  He may not be formally trained (although some courses are taken in seminary) but he may bring his bias toward you to your sessions and perhaps not give you the most helpful direction (I've seen this happen many times).  I would try to find a SD I didn't have any previous relationship with and take it from there - no preconceived ideas about you, your situation, etc.

In my many years of offering SD, women (and men) have come to me with similar situations.  Before you can even begin to discern if/what/where/when about RL in the future, you have to deal honestly with what's going on deep inside in the present.  I would bet a dollar to a donut that you've got unresolved "stuff" going on that is hiding itself beneath layers of other "stuff." :)))  You should and need to take the time - yes, you owe it to yourself and a possible  new community - to explore and resolve whatever residual feelings you are harboring.  And yes, you may think everything is humming along just fine at present, but you'd be surprised what can be lingering inside your mind, heart, and soul.  It's difficult and painful at times, but worth it for both yourself and a possible new community.

Take the time to get yourself 100% healthy and whole before jumping in again.  I think the Sisters are very wise to ask you to wait.  Confront the situation and do the hard work on this side of the cloister door before things pop up on the other side and you find yourself conflicted/angry/discouraged.  What you don't want is a repeat of your first experience with RL.  

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LilFlwr
6 hours ago, Francis Clare said:

LilFlwr, my heart aches for you.  But as a SD I've got to tell you that this is where some hard work begins.  Do you have a SD?  If so, good.  If not, try your hardest to find one.  You've got work to do!!!  If you're good friends with your pastor, I would advise you NOT to go to him for SD.  He may not be formally trained (although some courses are taken in seminary) but he may bring his bias toward you to your sessions and perhaps not give you the most helpful direction (I've seen this happen many times).  I would try to find a SD I didn't have any previous relationship with and take it from there - no preconceived ideas about you, your situation, etc.

In my many years of offering SD, women (and men) have come to me with similar situations.  Before you can even begin to discern if/what/where/when about RL in the future, you have to deal honestly with what's going on deep inside in the present.  I would bet a dollar to a donut that you've got unresolved "stuff" going on that is hiding itself beneath layers of other "stuff." :)))  You should and need to take the time - yes, you owe it to yourself and a possible  new community - to explore and resolve whatever residual feelings you are harboring.  And yes, you may think everything is humming along just fine at present, but you'd be surprised what can be lingering inside your mind, heart, and soul.  It's difficult and painful at times, but worth it for both yourself and a possible new community.

Take the time to get yourself 100% healthy and whole before jumping in again.  I think the Sisters are very wise to ask you to wait.  Confront the situation and do the hard work on this side of the cloister door before things pop up on the other side and you find yourself conflicted/angry/discouraged.  What you don't want is a repeat of your first experience with RL.  

Yes, I am thankful to have a spiritual director who is a priest from another parish and now after nearly five months we both feel I am now ready to at least visit communities, it doesn't mean signing on the dotted line. Thanks so much everyone for your comments.

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