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Split-heart vocation

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Hello all,

I'm coming here hoping for some advice.

I'm 28 & discerning with an order that accepts older people. They are cloistered and contemplative. I'm getting some signs from God that I do have a religious vocation too & I'm getting excited about my future!

The problem is I am currently a first yr graduate student living with my brother who is also a grad student. He is very shy and depressed & has a lot of trouble making friends.  he says he cannot complete his degree without me...he is basically lost without me...but I want to leave school and follow my calling?!!? What would you do if you were in my shoes? WWJD?

Also, how do I go about looking for a spiritual director on campus? I don't know anyone really.

Thankkk youuu for your advice!


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As far as a spiritual director goes, does your campus have a Catholic ministry of some sort? A Newman Center, or something like that? Even if there isn't one, there's probably a parish that serves the college community. The priests there will be familiar with academia. And they may have non-ordained ministers, too - women religious who do spiritual direction or counseling or other sorts of ministries.

As to the larger question, it sounds to me like your brother needs to start a program designed to build his independence. Suppose you stay in grad school until he completes his degree (and you, yours). And then you're ready to enter the convent. What will happen to him then? If he's still dependent on you, you won't be able to enter then, either.

Most colleges offer psychological counseling services. They may have some limit on the number of times they'll see you - say, half a dozen - before they refer you to a community-based service or a service through your insurance provider. Scout up that office on campus and find out what they have to offer both you and him, especially regarding his depression. They can help him set goals - meet one new person a week, go out with other people at least once a week, set a schedule for paying bills, or whatever.

Best of luck with it!


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Welcome to Phatmass! 

Looking for a spiritual director can be hard. If your campus has a Catholic center that would be a good place to start. If you regularly attend a parish ask the priest there. This may be a long shot but if there is a religious community nearby you see if they might be able to offer spiritual direction. It is not a deal breaker but it can be helpful if your SD has some understanding of religious life or even better experience in religious life.  The two spiritual directors that were able to help me most were a Jesuit priest and a diocesan priest who had seriously discerned with Benedictines.  

As far as the situation with your brother I agree with Luigi about seeing about getting him into counseling and while you are discerning help him work on his independence. And this may seem harsh but you can't "build" your discernment around him.  Trust that part of God's plan for your vocation involves Him taking care of your brother. This may be the push he needs to be more independent and seek the help it sounds like he needs.

I obviously don't know the exact situation with your brother but part of his reaction may be the normal fear of "losing" you to the convent compounded with the other issues you mentioned. Some thoughts on how to calm those fears. As things progress share what the visiting/phone/letter writing policies are for the community. That might help him see that you aren't going to just drop off the face of the earth.  I did a live-in experience this summer and I was surprised at the level of communication with families. There was a sense that your family was adopted into the general monastic family. I think the families felt that too. One of the biggest things that helped my family was being able to visit the community I am discerning with. I know they felt a bit overwhelmed by the attention the Sisters gave them but they could see I am happy there and really see the Sisters are "normal". As your discernment progresses ask if your brother can come for a short day visit. Even if it is just to pick you up or drop you off and stay for a couple of hours that may really help him.

I will be praying for you!

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Welcome to PM!

Your brother is obviously "Co-dependant" on you! If you allow him to continue to do so...you are a enabler! I submit the idea, of seeking a counselor for both of you to see together. Maybe with the help of a professional, the prospect of him "letting you go" will help both of you on various aspects of your current situation. Just a idea...

Also...you are 28...the common cut off age limit is about 35. (Of course, communities can use their discretion regarding advancing age.) You have no worries there! ;))

I wish you perseverance, faith and grace! 0;)

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