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profer_lumen_cæcis

This post may be a bit all over the place, so please bear with me:

 

So, I am 17-years-old and a junior in HS, and for quite some time I've been discerning the religious life (since about age 6). As the years have passed that burning desire has continued to grow, and now that I've been able to visit the order to which I believe God is calling me, that desire is so strong that I'm fairly certain God is, indeed, drawing me to there (a number of other unbelievable things have happened, too, that really re-affirmed this).

 

I recently told my parents (who are aware of my discernment) that I need to at least apply to this particular order. Originally my mom was supportive, but when she and my father began to talk about it, they became very firm that I have to attend college before even thinking about applying. I was visibly upset and my mom said that perhaps, after a time and after she and my father re-evaluate the situation, I may "only have to complete two years." Then, as more time went on and after speaking to another family member, they said that the full four years was going to be required.

 

I have spoken to my spiritual director about the matter, and he gave me some very sound advice. If I must complete two years of college, that would be fine (it's not what I want, but then again that's not how the spiritual life works :)), but the full four years means waiting five before I can even apply, and that just seems like putting off my vocation, and I never want to do anything to put it aside or in danger. If anyone has any advice, I would *greatly* appreciate the input! Thank you, and have a blessed commemoration of the Baptism of the Lord!

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Why do you need to apply now? How many visits and retreats have you done with the community besides your visit, and what other discernment work have you done so far? I entered quite young into a

College is definitely not for everyone, you’re right. Trade schools and/or apprenticeships can be great for many people. When I was in religious life, I remember the superior wishing for a few more pl

At this age, if she discerns out, she'll probably start college. When my daughter entered Carmel out of high school, we made sure that she had all her ducks in a row, so to speak, so she could begin c

Continue to pray as you finish High School, and cheerfully go to college and study. While you are learning and growing intellectually, continue to talk with your parents noting what you see as positive in the world and contrasting that with your continued spiritual growth and desire to discern your vocation in the religious life.  Your parents are worried because of your youth.  They would probably not want you to marry next year either.  Trust that they (and God) have your best interests in mind and surrender to God's will, making good use of each day, and knowing that when your parents see your serious intent, they will agree to let you go.  Pray and we will all pray with you.

 

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Sponsa-Christi

Provided that you wouldn't be accumulating any student loan debt--i.e., if it's the case that your parents would be sending you to college and paying for you to go--I would go ahead and earn a four-year degree.

Waiting until after you finish college to enter a community you're in touch with is very, very normal. I would think the vast majority of vocation directors would be happy to stay actively in touch with you during your college years, while you prepare to enter right after graduation. 

At your age, I wouldn't look at it as "putting off your vocation." I would see it as more like "pre-formation formation." The education you receive will make you a more well-rounded person, and you'll bring this personal maturity and development with you when (God willing) you ultimately enter your community. It's almost sort of like bringing an intellectual dowry with you! 

Plus, college does NOT have to be four years of aimless hedonism! On the contrary, if you do it right it can be an especially fruitful time in your life spiritually. Find a Catholic university with a good campus ministry program, or even a secular university with an excellent Newman Center, and you can do things like attend daily Mass, get involved with like-minded peers, go on retreats especially for students, or participate in service projects and pro-life activities. And who knows...your friendship and example may even prompt other young women to discern religious life!

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PaxCordisJesu

@profer_lumen_cæcisI'm going through a similar situation right now too! I can't add anything to what's already been said, except to trust that God will get you where He wants you to be, in His way and in His time. If He wants you to enter religious life out of high school, it will happen! And if not, then He has some reason for wanting you to go to college first. Praying for you! 

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SicutColumba

I certainly don’t want to give any bad or misleading advice but I have always understood that parents do not have the right to keep an adult child from pursuing a vocation. Whether your age and maturity level at this moment qualify you as an adult is something I couldn’t answer, but in the end your vocation is not in your parents’ hands. If you are truly called to Carmel right out of high school then I would definitely continue speaking with your parents, spiritual director, and community about this. 
I am in a somewhat similar situation. I wanted to enter straight out of school but I took a year off for discernment. I fell hard and fast for a community and thought I couldn’t bear another second of not being religious. But in the end I decided to do at least one year of a (three-year) degree to mature some more before my entry and so that my leaving the world will be all the more meaningful to me. I also love my area of studies (classics) and I’m sure it will serve me well in religious life. This means that when I enter this summer, I will have spent the two years after graduation « in the world » so to speak. 
This is just to help you understand that it is not the end of your vocation if you do end up getting a degree. But be sure that it is you who are set on the degree and not your parents. You will be an adult at the end of your high school years and it is your choice and the choice of the community that you enter, not your parents’. 
I would definitely speak more with your sd about this. And since, as you said in another thread, the prioress has asked you to apply, is she expecting you to go through with a four year degree? 
100% feel free to PM me whenever because I have experienced tons of opposition from family and a bit of the college life as well and I would be happy to help you talk through some stuff. 
Blessed octave of the epiphany to everyone. 

Edited by SicutColumba
Épiphanie to epiphany lol
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I may have a unique perspective on this. I have a daughter that entered Carmel right out of high school. She, too, knew she was meant for Carmel at a young age, and many of the sisters are the same way. She loves her life there, and she made her First Profession last week on the Feast of the Epiphany.  I think it would have been unfair of me to demand that she attend college, even though I did insist that she take the ACT "just in case" she didn't stay (though I highly doubted she would return home).  In my opinion, it would have been downright cruel to ask her to wait.

However, in the next breath, I'm going to tell you that I have a niece that has said she has wanted to enter Carmel from an early age.  She is now a junior.  I just don't think she is ready.  She still thinks too much of herself, has to argue with her parents on every minor thing, and is very attached to her "stuff".  I really, really think she needs to hold off to have a successful try in Carmel. I think, at this point, she would certainly not persevere.  In her case, college may be just what the doctor ordered (depending on some circumstances, such as, will she take the opportunity to leave home and experience life on her own so she has to deal with the consequences of her actions).

Being all that as it may, the superiors are given a special grace in which they can detect signs of a vocation. Sometimes they are right; sometimes they are wrong. These superiors have recognized signs of a vocation in you.  That should weigh heavily on the "enter now" side.

On the other hand, your parents may have legitimate reasons for you to wait. Do they simply want you to wait because of your age or because they see certain problem areas you need to seriously work on?  Perfection is not expected, but the ability to be flexible and live the life is. They have no right whatsoever to insist on putting it off, and the saints will back me up on this. However, their opinion is not to be discarded, either. 

Can you be **brutally** honest with yourself? Are you obedient? Do you have to sass or complain or to give excuse at any little thing?  Are you industrious or lazy? Do you accept the consequences of your actions or do you have to be the exception to the rule? Are you flexible? In other words, have you inculcated those things in yourself that will make living the life possible? Have you been preparing yourself to be a nun?

In closing, let me say that I have experienced this personally in my own life. My parents insisted on my attending college before pursuing religious life, and that may have been the worse mistake of my life. If I had pursued religious life first, then discerned out, my college years would have been much more fruitful. As it was, it was pure misery and struggle from beginning to end. I did have a good Newman Center, a good group of Catholic friends, etc. But that was not enough to quench the inner longing of my heart.

One more thing, though. If you have application in hand, or they are expecting a letter or whatnot, please share with them what's going on with your parents. If you just drop off the radar for a while, they may interpret it wrongly and take it as a sign that you do not have a vocation after all. You want to be open with them about your discernment struggles.

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Hey there, as someone who only thought about religious life forthe first time as a sophomore in college, I just can say that living on my own made a huge difference. It is a great opportunity to mature, to live responsibly and certainly changes the relationship to ones family. [Actually, it made my mother see me as the adult I am.]

This might be a chance for you, but if all you can think about in class is how you wish you weren't there, but in the monastery, classes aren't particularly fruitful ;) God bless!

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ReasonableFaith
1 hour ago, JHFamily said:

...If you have application in hand, or they are expecting a letter or whatnot, please share with them what's going on with your parents. If you just drop off the radar for a while, they may interpret it wrongly and take it as a sign that you do not have a vocation after all. You want to be open with them about your discernment struggles.

x2 

The vocation/recruitment team has almost certainly dealt with applicants in the same situation. You should be seeking their advice and the advice of your spiritual director. Of course your parents have a large amount of input as long as you are a minor. 
 

Concerning the idea of preventing entrance or denying a person’s vocation: making an application and entrance into a community are not the same. In general the application process will result in an acceptance, denial, or you being asked to wait until a later date to revisit the possibility. You are free to turn down an acceptance or an opportunity to revisit at a later date. 
 

In closing, remember these types of vocation forums are public. The posts are available to everyone including vocation/recruitment personnel. Many have been know to monitor such forums. It may be wise to keep specific and personal identifying information to a minimum. 

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4 hours ago, Sponsa-Christi said:

Provided that you wouldn't be accumulating any student loan debt--i.e., if it's the case that your parents would be sending you to college and paying for you to go--I would go ahead and earn a four-year degree.

 

 

I think that this observation regarding accumulation of student debt is very important. Many/most communities are not in a position of paying off student debt nor do othey wish to do so.  Perhaps staying at home and attending a local community college/university may be a good solution.  Increasingly, many students are doing just this, as the costs of higher education mount.

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3 hours ago, ReasonableFaith said:

Concerning the idea of preventing entrance or denying a person’s vocation: making an application and entrance into a community are not the same. In general the application process will result in an acceptance, denial, or you being asked to wait until a later date to revisit the possibility. You are free to turn down an acceptance or an opportunity to revisit at a later date. 

I just want to say that if she is applying to one of the communities that I am thinking she is, if she goes through the application process and then does not enter, they probably will not accept her again. I know this from first hand experience that this is true in certain communities. If she's upfront and saying that she's going to attend college first because of her parents, then they will keep discernment open.

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ReasonableFaith
9 minutes ago, JHFamily said:

I just want to say that if she is applying to one of the communities that I am thinking she is, if she goes through the application process and then does not enter, they probably will not accept her again. I know this from first hand experience that this is true in certain communities. If she's upfront and saying that she's going to attend college first because of her parents, then they will keep discernment open.

It is possible (perhaps probable) a community may not accept an applicant a second time.  Depending on the reasons for not entering they may or may not. They may also allowed for a delayed entrance.  
 

I would not advocate a strategy of applying with an intent to turn down an acceptance, rather was just giving an overview of the possible application outcomes. 
 

It is advisable for any discerner/applicant to discuss their situation with the community and seek their advice on how to proceed.  They will be the ones to express their preferences given the situation. 
 

It is worth noting you believe you have enough information to narrow this poster‘s chosen community down to just a handful of ostensibly small communities. 

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I already had my MA before I entered the convent, so, obviously, parental consent was a non-issue. ;) I do believe that parents need to respect the decisions of their adult children.

However, I very much liked JHF's point. Maturity varies greatly (...I know people who are eighty who never grew up, but they fortunately aren't applicants for religious life.) You are an adult at 17, but there are people who marry, enter religious life, etc, at that age, who are fine with the life they chose - where others are too wrapped up in themselves as JHF mentioned. 

I never have been a mother, of course, so I nearly hesitate to comment - but I don't know that I'd be thrilled if one of my children wanted to marry at 17. (Not that I'd have thought it generally was a wonderful idea when I was young, but I think people had more of an understanding of commitment and responsibility then.) Many religious I knew were your age or younger when they entered, but, if your mother is devout, she probably has seen more Sisters leave than remain (after final vows), and knew pastors who married the Sister Superior. 

I'm a born student (I obtained my last degree when I was in my 50s), but my university years were enriching not only academically but in my spiritual life. I was active in campus ministry - attended daily Mass. I was a scholarship girl, and I don't know if such arrangements exist now, and you certainly don't want debts - I don't know if you could attend a Catholic college. But it can be very enriching if you do.

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I also want to point out that she is a 17 year-old junior. She still has a year and a half before she enters. There's still a lot of discernment time there. Also, if you've read her posts on another thread, it's fairly easy to glean enough information to whittle the list down to five.

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If your parents are paying for your college in full, then going is one thing. If they expect you to finance it, I'd look at going to a two year community college for an associate's degree and/or university transfer program as you probably can find grants/scholarships to cover the cost and won't accrue debt and worst case if you have to borrow it'd probably be a few thousand that could be paid off with a few months work or maybe selling your possessions. Do NOT go into debt just to please your parents if you feel you have a religious vocation. 

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