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Catholic Joy

Contacting a religious order

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Catholic Joy

So I finally got around to contacting an order of sisters I have been looking into almost a week ago now. I expected them not to respond immediately, but I was just wondering if anyone else could share their experience of contacting an order for the first time. I guess I'm not being too patient, I am just wondering what to expect.

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John Paul

I send letters. They would get back in a week or two and they'd send a letter back answering my questions with a pamphlet about the order and some prayer cards and things like that.

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Sister Leticia

You haven't said whether you've sent a letter or an email. If an email, whether to a strictly cloistered community, who might only check their email now and then, or an apostolic sister who might be away with limited internet access. Did you write to a general community address or to a named sister? If it's the former, then community addresses don't get looked at as often as they should - everyone has her own email address, and forgets to check the community one (which, of course, is the one that gets advertised on directories!)

And don't forget to factor in over-protective spam fiddlers!

Give  it a few more days, then re-send the email, with a few words, saying you hope they've received this ok. Say a little prayer as you do this, placing the outcome in God's hands, and asking for the grace of inner freedom about this. 

And don't worry about being impatient - that's very understandable. You've just sent what could be a momentous, life-changing email, it might have taken you ages to write it, and naturally you're anxious to receive a reply. 

Blessings on your ongoing journey and discernment!

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Catholic Joy

I sent the email to the vocations director of a large international order with a lot of new sisters (I think 14 made first vows this year in the North American province alone) thank you for the encouragement!

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TheresaThoma

Yay on taking this first step. It can be scary to do so!

From my own experience two weeks was about average before I got a response.  Also be on the lookout for them to respond with a different email address than the generic one listed.  I had this happen once but it was pretty easy to figure out who the email belonged to. Another community I wrote a letter to but had included my email address at the end of the letter. I had been waiting for a letter but they emailed me instead. I was quite surprised!

With the communities that I discerned with I learned they each had their own rhythm/schedule of when they would reply. It just took time to figure it out and of course it changed as I progressed through my discernment.

My initial emails were a couple sentence bio about myself (age, where I live, what I do etc) and would ask a couple of questions. For the initial response I would typically get some basic information about the community and typically the VD would have a few questions for me. 

If you haven't heard back in over three weeks it wouldn't hurt to email again at that point. Emails can get lost or go astray. 

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Catholic Joy

So, three weeks later and still no reply so I sent another email from a different email address so we'll see what happens. 

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Sister Leticia

I hope you've had a reply by now. If not, and if the sisters have a Facebook page perhaps you could contact them via that, just in case your emails keep landing in spam? Just tell them you've emailed xyz@... a couple of times and see what they say.

But I think it's also worth asking yourself: if you had applied to do some volunteering or do a course and were still waiting for a reply 3+ weeks later, would you continue waiting, or would you decide this clearly meant the placement/course wasn't meant to be, or would you decide to look around more widely, and contact a few other places as well? I get the impression you've only contacted this one community, which you know through reputation/the internet. It really wouldn't do any harm to look around and contact a few others - in fact, it would probably help your discernment.

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Antonella

I was interested in an Order, so I wrote an email to the Community that was close to where I lived. After 3 weeks of waiting for an answer I wrote to another Community in the same Order. Best decision I ever made! I actually want to enter there! :)

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Kayte Postle

Like others have said it depends on the community. I have written to a variety of communities over my 5 years of discerning. Contemplatives usually take a little longer, just because of their rhythm of life. I've had active-contemplative communities write me back the same day! I've also had communities not write me back at all. It really just depends. Know that it's all in God good timing. If you're very interested in a community and you don't hear anything after a few weeks, write them again and see what happens. The waiting can be hard, but it's really worth it in the end. Also don't be afraid to call the vocations office if you don't get an email response. Sometimes emails do just get lost. Hope that helps, and prayers for your discernment.

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Francis Clare

Did you write prior to the start of Advent?  Or after Advent began?  That might be a source of the delay.

My previous post just disappeared.  I think our service is going down again due to our barrage of snow and wind.

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