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What Happens When Nuns/sisters Leave The Order?

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Nunsuch
8 hours ago, gloriana35 said:

The time of which I am speaking was one of great confusion in religious communities (though, unlike today, there still were a substantial number of religious Sisters.) It's very difficult to summarise. Workshops, seminars, articles by current or former priests and Sisters, often presented puzzling, very discouraging ideas. One might here that the 'age of the laity' made religious life obsolete - a presenter well might say that, regardless of whether a Sister wished to leave or not, communities would no longer exist within ten years. Apostolic work was criticised - Sisters who served in third world missions were 'part of the problem' for not forcing the governments to take initiatives for healthcare, and converts who became Christian were 'deprived of their culture.' I knew of  a monastery, which happened to be located near a residence where mostly married members of a charismatic group lived - they recommended this to any potential applicant, because what if this was the way the Holy Spirit wanted community life to be now, not vowed life?  (The charismatic community did not exist for long, but there was great enthusiasm for a few years.) Some friars I knew became so involved in encouraging married people to be Secular Franciscans that someone seeking a convent or friary life would be urged to become SFO instead.

Many religious in final vows had left their communities. I often wonder how many became discouraged, because there was a popular idea (which I encountered, many times) that the only vocation is baptism, and that their consecration had no particular value. Other communities seemed to have abandoned the very charism a Sister may have lived and taught for decades. Supposedly, in past thinking, being accepted for final vows meant it was God's will... had God now changed his mind, with the new 'age of the laity'? And too many congregations no longer spoke of their vows -their reason for existence seemed to be defeating the oppression of women. (A woman who did not think herself oppressed was in need of 'education.')

Someone who has the gift to be a spiritual director should not have agendas - but communities, dioceses, conferences, and so forth frequently did. They probably were well-intentioned. Yet I was one of many candidates who received the impression that communities were doing everything they could to discourage candidates. (I heard such discussions amongst certain Sisters, from different communities, who were in vocation work. )

Just this past week, coincidentally, I heard a priest say that most Sisters he has met, who entered between the 1940s-60s, did so because the feared for future security, and didn't have career and educational opportunities. (This was not the case with most Sisters I knew. Though I am working-class, the majority of the Sisters who taught me were not - their mothers, and even grandmothers, often had university degrees, and many had independent family income.) It did grow tiresome, for myself and others attempting application, to have to hear endless details of career opportunities, new lay apostolates, the sacredness of marriage (which we had known of in the first place!). 

I can see how very much communities did not know which directions they should take. I most definitely saw confusion over whether vowed life was obsolete, and everything should be about secular ministries. 

You acknowledge on another thread that you have no experience with religious life. Well, as someone who has studied it extensively, and has served as a consultant to many congregations, I have to say that many of the sweeping generalizations you make here are both erroneous and highly problematic. I suspect they have no basis in actual fact, but only in a few speculative examples. Certainly, none of the research on religious life both in the period immediately before OR after Vatican II would sustain what you say here. So, if you do not have sources for what you write here, I would encourage you not to make such disparaging claims.

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Sponsa-Christi
30 minutes ago, Nunsuch said:

You acknowledge on another thread that you have no experience with religious life. Well, as someone who has studied it extensively, and has served as a consultant to many congregations, I have to say that many of the sweeping generalizations you make here are both erroneous and highly problematic. I suspect they have no basis in actual fact, but only in a few speculative examples. Certainly, none of the research on religious life both in the period immediately before OR after Vatican II would sustain what you say here. So, if you do not have sources for what you write here, I would encourage you not to make such disparaging claims.

Actually, I'm good friends with several older religious who have shared very similar reflections to those that gloriana35 has shared.  Obviously one poster's experiences aren't universal, but I think gloriana was hitting on some very real and valid points.  

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Egeria
7 hours ago, Sponsa-Christi said:

Actually, I'm good friends with several older religious who have shared very similar reflections to those that gloriana35 has shared.  Obviously one poster's experiences aren't universal, but I think gloriana was hitting on some very real and valid points.  

Ditto.

One (perhaps extreme) public example of this can be seen in the words of the provincial of the Dutch Dominican friars when he wrote: "people in our province talked of re-founding the order and of Dominican lay people being our heirs, as the branch of the brothers in our own country seemed to be slowly evaporating."

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Nunsuch

Sorry, but I think that some of the anecdotal evidence here is somewhat equivalent to that of listening to divorced people as authoritative sources on the current state of marriage. Also, to take isolated anecdotes from decades ago and suggest that they may have relevance to the presence is also problematic.

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kjw

Learned?

"listening to divorced people as authoritative sources on the current state of marriage. Also, to take isolated anecdotes from decades ago and suggest that they may have relevance to the presence is also problematic."

How about replying authoritatively to their wondering children?

Problematic ...

"Brides ..."

Do I ask Mormons to comment at this point -- legalities? 

These were official ceremonies were they not?  Catholic is a word with English root dating only to the 1580s.  

I don't think it would only be classmates of mine that should be concerned with the way you reply. 

If I have misread your meaning I apologize. ... but anecdotes?

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Sponsa-Christi
1 hour ago, Nunsuch said:

Sorry, but I think that some of the anecdotal evidence here is somewhat equivalent to that of listening to divorced people as authoritative sources on the current state of marriage. Also, to take isolated anecdotes from decades ago and suggest that they may have relevance to the presence is also problematic.

Honestly, though, continuing with this analogy I think divorced people actually would have some decent insights into the current state of marriage in our culture today. Would their experiences alone tell you the full story of what marriage is and could be? No, of course not. But the stories of the divorced could still give some valuable insights as to the challenges married people might face, or why so many marriages today fail. 

Even though there are still lots of good Sisters and healthy communities out there, I think it's beyond obvious that SOMETHING happened to religious life in general in the decades immediately following Vatican II.  The recollections of negative or confusing experiences that religious or those discerning religious life had at the time are just as valid (and even helpful to us) as the more positive stories that others might have. 

Edited by Sponsa-Christi
typo

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gloriana35
On 06/04/2018 at 12:56 AM, Nunsuch said:

You acknowledge on another thread that you have no experience with religious life. Well, as someone who has studied it extensively, and has served as a consultant to many congregations, I have to say that many of the sweeping generalizations you make here are both erroneous and highly problematic. I suspect they have no basis in actual fact, but only in a few speculative examples. Certainly, none of the research on religious life both in the period immediately before OR after Vatican II would sustain what you say here. So, if you do not have sources for what you write here, I would encourage you not to make such disparaging claims.

I DO have experience in religious life. What I said elsewhere was that I have no experience of being in a cloistered Order. I entered a religious community which was not the first I considered - as I mentioned elsewhere, the congregation to which I first applied was moving in directions I did not care to take. But I did enter that other community. This is not speculation. I was a Sister - I knew many Sisters, from varied communities - attended those workshops I mentioned - and so forth. None of this is based on anything I did not personally experience or witness.

Edited by gloriana35
Forgot to add a detail

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gloriana35

I am leaving this forum, since I realised my contributions can do no good. (I gave details about my convent years earlier in this very thread, and Nunsense said I had no experience in religious life and was just using speculation.) I know this is no loss to anyone, but I'll make one final statement. There were complex reasons Sisters left religious life forty years ago - and it too often is assumed it always was about women now having job opportunities, or lay ministries being more appreciated. 

The community to which I belonged has few members left in the countries where they once had many ministries - and those who have entered in recent years most often entered the branches in Africa, India, or the Philippines. It has been sad to see how, within my lifetime, religious life went from being highly present to often dying out. 

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Nunsuch
1 hour ago, gloriana35 said:

I DO have experience in religious life. What I said elsewhere was that I have no experience of being in a cloistered Order. I entered a religious community which was not the first I considered - as I mentioned elsewhere, the congregation to which I first applied was moving in directions I did not care to take. But I did enter that other community. This is not speculation. I was a Sister - I knew many Sisters, from varied communities - attended those workshops I mentioned - and so forth. None of this is based on anything I did not personally experience or witness.

Sorry for my mistake. I am also sorry for your experience. Meanwhile, I know quite a number of former sisters, most of whom remain in contact with the communities, and have many friends there. Some have become Associates, while others simply maintain informal contact. The research shows that, in the aftermath of Vatican II, at least as many women left religious life because they did not perceive *more* change, while some did leave because there was too much. [Others, of course, transferred, rather than leaving religious life completely.]  

Three books that have a lot of information. One is called something like "Always Our Sister," and is a collection of essays by former members of the Benedictine Sisters, St. Joseph, Minnesota (I have the book, but am not near my study at the moment). Another is "Voices of Silence: A Loretto Patchwork," which is written jointly by sisters and former sisters from the entrance class of 1962. The third is Carole G. Rogers, "Habits of Change: An Oral History of American Nuns." There are also a number of scholarly studies of former sisters. While anecdotal reports are not irrelevant, it is important not to cMonfuse A truth with THE truth.

2 hours ago, gloriana35 said:

I DO have experience in religious life. What I said elsewhere was that I have no experience of being in a cloistered Order. I entered a religious community which was not the first I considered - as I mentioned elsewhere, the congregation to which I first applied was moving in directions I did not care to take. But I did enter that other community. This is not speculation. I was a Sister - I knew many Sisters, from varied communities - attended those workshops I mentioned - and so forth. None of this is based on anything I did not personally experience or witness.

Sorry for my mistake. I am also sorry for your experience. Meanwhile, I know quite a number of former sisters, most of whom remain in contact with the communities, and have many friends there. Some have become Associates, while others simply maintain informal contact. The research shows that, in the aftermath of Vatican II, at least as many women left religious life because they did not perceive *more* change, while some did leave because there was too much. [Others, of course, transferred, rather than leaving religious life completely.]  Others, of course, left or were dismissed (if before final vows) because they never should have been in religious life in the first place. The screening of candidates for most congregations before Vatican II was notoriously lax.

Three books that have a lot of information. One is called something like "Always Our Sister," and is a collection of essays by former members of the Benedictine Sisters, St. Joseph, Minnesota (I have the book, but am not near my study at the moment). Another is "Voices of Silence: A Loretto Patchwork," which is written jointly by sisters and former sisters from the entrance class of 1962. The third is Carole G. Rogers, "Habits of Change: An Oral History of American Nuns." There are also a number of scholarly studies of former sisters. While anecdotal reports are not irrelevant, it is important not to cMonfuse A truth with THE truth.

 

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Terese

Do any of you know if there is counseling for Sisters leaving their community?

I left my community after four years and I was temporary professed.

I do need counseling please!! I do not have much money so.. please help.

Maybe someone out of the kindness of his or her heart can do an act of charity.

Thanks!!

God bless!!

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maar

Dear Terese,

I'm about to go to Mass and will offer it up for you with confidence that God will provide a sound and affordable counselor to help you process your experience and navigate the next chapter of your life.

And I will of course pass on any lead I may stumble upon.

The Lord is with you always! Hold steady!

Edited by maar

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passerby
43 minutes ago, Terese said:

Do any of you know if there is counseling for Sisters leaving their community?

I left my community after four years and I was temporary professed.

I do need counseling please!! I do not have much money so.. please help.

Maybe someone out of the kindness of his or her heart can do an act of charity.

Thanks!!

God bless!!

Dear Terese,

I will pray for you as you go through this time. I suggest reaching out to Leonie's Longing - it is a website/community of people who have left religious life and from what I understand, they often help people with resources upon leaving (i.e. resume help, prayer support, etc.) If you check out their "resources" page, there is information about getting connected with a Catholic counsellor. I'd encourage you to visit their site.

Leonie's Longing

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Marie Terese

Wow- I wish I hd found this continuing discussion when I left the convent in 1979. My experience in leaving was horrible - it was like I had dies- maybe worse. The community totally fell apart a number of years later. I didn't know anyone else who had left when I left (except a couple friends who had left before me). This discussion would have really helped. 40 years later- all is ok- but that spot in my heart remains soft!

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