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Totus Tuus Maria

Was/is family contact part of your discernment?

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Totus Tuus Maria

Hi all,

This is my first time posting on phatmass. I wanted to ask in general what you think of considering home visits or openness with talking to family impacting discernment with a community?

[In my specific case I have a handicapped sister in her 20's who is going through a great deal mentally as she has been losing her eyesight. She was 20/20 seven years ago and is now 20/1250 and getting worse. I feel called to religious life very deeply and have been told by one community that I need to detach from my sister and just trust in the Lord. 

Ideally, I would still like to be able to be a part of her life even if it is just a home visit each year and a phone call or email every couple of weeks (I know this is restricted in novitiate). ]

Any thoughts or advice are welcome,

Thank you! 

Edited by Totus Tuus Maria
awkward wording

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Antigonos

I have never had any contact with communities, not being even a Christian, but this seems a legitimate concern to raise with any community you feel you might like to discern with, since the situation is unusual but certainly not a minor one.  One community might tell you that they have a particular policy and cannot make exceptions and you have to choose, another might tell you that in unique situations dispensations can be arranged, etc.

If it were me, I certainly would be up front and open about it when having interviews.  It's hardly an "every day concern".

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Nunsuch

I have never heard of any community that forbids contact with family. Some--particularly cloistered ones--may restrict contact; a few may forbid home visits (but even many cloistered communities now allow them. Some restrict visitors, including family, during novitiate. But there is no community I'm aware of that completely blocks all contact with family. 

As Antigonos says, in this as in all things, it is best to ask questions to get clarification from the community itself. Keep in mind that enclosed communities tend to have more restrictions than active ones. I've honestly not heard of ANY modern active communities that prohibit home visits (though these may be very limited before final vows, and may not occur during the canonical year). 

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Sister Leticia

Hello and welcome!

As Nunsuch has already said, no community should forbid any contact - if you meet one which does, regard it as a massive red flag. But monastic communities will restrict contact, and home visits are less likely. Some might relax this, for example when parents become too frail and elderly to travel to the monastery, but this would depend on the community. 

But if you're feeling called to apostolic religious life, then there are generally fewer restrictions, except during the canonical year - and even here, there can be flexibility, for example if a parent is ill. 

I do know a couple of sisters for whom family contact was part of their discernment. For example, a sister once told me she felt strongly pulled towards being a missionary. This was back in the 1950s, when missionaries were sent to another continent and rarely came back on home leave. She was an only daughter and a convert, and knew her parents would find her entry to religious life extremely difficult - it would have broken their hearts if she was sent to Tanzania or Uganda, and they never saw her again. So she entered a community where she was likely to remain in the UK for the rest of her life - and ended up working in a very multi-cultural parish, surrounded by people from Africa and Asia. She felt this was God bringing "the missions" to her, as a lovely recompense.  

Apart from the issue of family contact, do you have any pull towards any particular spirituality or charism? If so, make that your starting point, research and contact communities whose spirit attracts you, and then ask your questions about this and other things when you talk with the VD.

Blessings on your ongoing discernment!

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Totus Tuus Maria
On February 18, 2018 at 8:59 PM, Totus Tuus Maria said:

Thank you all for your responses, they have really helped :)

I do think I will be leaning toward a more apostolic life because of my concern here.

I am drawn to Dominican spirituality and I have a love for the Sacred Heart especially reparation to the Sacred Heart, so that's what I am leading with now. 

"Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love."- St. John of the Cross

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Luigi

Although I have no experience with discernment, I would also consider it a massive red flag if a religious organization forbade contact with family - family is usually the first step in raising funds! Who will support you and your sisters if you can't stay in touch with your mailing network?

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Totus Tuus Maria

Just to clarify, I wasn't trying to indicate a community was forbidding me from contact, just implying that they looked at taking family into consideration in discernment as a need for detachment.

I understand that religious life entails great sacrifice but I was uncertain as to what this sacrifice calls for. It has come to my understanding that the Lord calls people to different sacrifices and this can be lived out differently among different communities. 

Sister Leticia, I greatly appreciate your examples of sisters who considered family as part of their discernment :) 

 

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TheresaThoma

Family contact has been something I have asked about with each community I have discerned with. I think your expectations of a phone call once or twice a month and/or a home visit once a year is very realistic. 

Knowing how a community handles family communication (how and how often) is a very normal question. In my own experience it has been helpful to be able to tell my family specifics about communication and visits. It can also help to keep things in perspective of you consider how often you would be able to talk or come for  visit if you lived away from your family. Right now if I can see my family for 1 week every year that is amazing for me because of work schedules and costs.

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