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Dymphna

Question about active/apostolic communities of women

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Dymphna

As one of those "older discerners" I'm always interested in the lists of women communities (published in various places on the net) which are open towards older members. I notice that Benedictines especially seem to have little problems with age, actually, most of the communities on these lists seem to be of the cloistered variety. And I'm wondering: Is there something that makes apostolic communities, those not living in a convent but in smaller groups, more reluctant to discern with someone older?

I can see two reasons: One is that it can be harder to change your life and start something completely new when you're older. But then - if an older person enters a contemplative convent, they surely have to adapt to a larger change in their lifestyle? There are many examples where the former works well, so why shouldn't the latter? The other reason I see is that members of apostolic communities need many years of education and training, and it doesn't make sense to start that too late in life. But if someone is already trained and experienced in a field useful for a community, that problem shouldn't exist...

It could be funny - I for example have been told both that I am too old by one interesting community, and that they are not accepting new candidates because they think they are too old by another.

So, members of or people who know about those communities, can you please enlighten us? ;-) What holds you/them back, if anything?

Edited by Dymphna

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Sister Leticia

Hello Dymphna

I don't know which country you're in, and therefore what your context is, or if the lists you've been looking at are from all over, with people adding communities they know of (as can happen here). I also don't know what you mean by "older" - 40s? 50s? older? 

That aside, I was surprised to read that apostolic congregations are more reluctant to accept older candidates. That is certainly not the case here in the UK. Looking at the come & see events currently advertised on UK Religious Life, I see only one ad stipulates 20s and 30s... and it's for a monastic weekend. All the others (which are being offered by apostolic communities) don't mention age, except for one which says "young women", but with no specified definition of young. But given that the age limit for WYD is 35, "young" is becoming a very elastic term,and I'm sure an enquirer of 40 or so wouldn't be turned away.

I also know one congregation who last year ran 2 come & see weekends - with one being specifically for women over 40. 

Discerners are often in their 30s and 40s over here, and I can think of several novices in friends' orders who are 40+, and not regarded as unusual. A few orders here might stipulate (and stick to) an upper age limit of 40 or 45, but most would definitely discern with a woman in her 40s, and some with someone in her 50s. 

And, of course, we have a small congregation - Mater Ecclesiae - founded in this country in the 1970s specifically for older vocations.  

So I'm wondering if the problem isn't with the apostolic orders, but with the people who compile the lists not knowing about all this...?

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Dymphna

Hello Sister Leticia,

good to hear that in the UK age limits have become more elastic already! I made my experiences in mainland Europe, maybe the communities there can learn from their British counterparts...

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