Entering the Convent: Answers

So I’ve gotten a lot of questions ever since I made it publicly known that I was entering the convent in September. I’ve taken questions people have asked me on Twitter, and I’ll also add in questions that people have asked me in real life. Here we go!

What order are you entering? The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, IL (closer to St. Louis than Chicago)

So, you’re really entering? Like you’ve applied and all? Now I think I get this question a lot because people think I’ve only contacted the community and started discerning with the community. But, although I’m still discerning with the community, I have finished the application process and was accepted in March. I’ve been preparing all my things and getting ready to enter in less than a month.

How did your family and friends react when you told them you were discerning? My family and friends have always known I was discerning, so they weren’t that surprised. I think the most surprising thing to my family and friends was the fact that I was going to enter right after entering high school. Many people close to me would question why I was going so far away, so early, etc. It was mostly difficult to explain that I was doing this not because I just wanted to, but because God is calling me to do so.

How did you discern entering the convent? I had attended immersion retreats at a House of Formation, and so it was very natural for me to discern the religious life. But, discerning was definitely a lot of prayer and spending time with God. There were several moments that really stand out in my life, which was when the Lord was calling me to be a sister, and that I needed to stop running and give Him my fiat (yes!). I also experienced moments when I saw the joys of spiritual motherhood, and that was really instrumental in my discernment as well.

How did you choose a particular order? For me personally, I have always felt drawn to this certain community. There was a special joy that exuded from them that drew me in more than other communities (who were also very joyful). I think the biggest part of this is you don’t really choose a community, God leads you to one, and then you discern with the order about whether you’re being called there or not.

How long did it take to discern? I had always discerned the religious life, but it wasn’t until the summer before my junior year that I was really open to the idea of religious life. I seriously discerned for about two years.

Tips for other discerners? Be open to what the Lord might be calling you to do. I know that it might seem really scary at times, but the Lord will give you so much joy and peace when we trust Him. Also, people often think of the religious life as giving up things or being restricted, but as one of the Sisters I know really likes to say, “the religious life is giving up something beautiful for something more beautiful.” And I like to say, “what’s more beautiful and loving than our Lord?”

An Update: Hoping to Enter a Convent

I recently announced on my Catholic Twitter account that I am currently in the application process to enter a religious order. This blog post will hopefully answer a few questions, or if anyone stumbles across this article, that yes, young women still desire to enter the religious life (especially more “traditional” orders).

So, who am I? Well, I can’t completely answer that, but I’m a 17 year old senior at a Catholic high school. I participate in a few extracurricular activities, I love music, and I’m a hardworking student. Recently I heard from some classmates about the realization that religious sisters are “normal.” But, the sisters they had met belonged to an order with many older sisters, didn’t wear a religious habit, etc. This saddened and shocked me since I was so used to seeing young, joyful sisters, who are “normal,” and do many things other people do, too.

I realized that some people expect religious sisters to come from a certain mold; pious Catholics since birth, no social life, unhappy, and not pretty enough to find a spouse. Oh! But how that’s completely the opposite…God does not call a specific type of person. He has made us all unique, and so He calls us each in a different way. Some were atheists, non-practicing Catholics, home-schooled, dated, etc. The main point is, religious sisters were not born in a specific mold, and no vocation story is ever the same.

Anyways, it’s a little bit different to be surrounded by classmates who are occupied with college applications. The variety of questions similar to “where are you thinking of attending for college?” have made me a little bit annoyed. Of course everyone assumes that most teenagers will attend college after their high school education, but I can’t say that I’m entering a convent…well, because I haven’t been officially accepted, yet! I wonder why hardly anyone promotes the priesthood or religious life, it’s sometimes seen as a secondary option, and that saddens me.

So going off of the title of this blog post, it may seem a little against the culture of today’s society to enter a convent. To take radical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience is a foreign, or crazy idea to many. “The world has so much to offer.” Sure, but nothing will ever compare to the love of the Lord. As St. Gerard Majella remarks, “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” Women and men that discern the priesthood or religious life are not losing, but they are gaining an incredible life. A life that closely reflects the life of Christ is truly a joyful life.

Expanding on my vocation story, at one point in my prayer, I encountered the merciful love of God. It was at this moment that I knew, “How could I ever say no to this love?”I had been previously distracted with other things that did not bring me towards the Lord, but He looked upon me with love, just love. I realized He was telling me that even if I didn’t choose Him, I have free will and whatever I choose to do with that free will, God will still love me no matter what. That absolute love that I encountered brought me to tears, I felt at peace in my heart once I decided to follow His will, not my own wants.

Over the past two years, I have been making strides in my discernment. I’ve met various religious sisters, but one religious order had always attracted me. I made a weekend visit at their motherhouse, and recently came back from a longer visit. My time with them was beautiful, I had felt such a peace and joy that is indescribable, but I definitely felt the Lord calling me throughout my time there. During this longer visit, I asked to enter, and received the application papers.

Although I have a long way until I’m officially accepted, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about what will happen. Of course I realize that the past Thanksgiving could be the last Thanksgiving I ever spend with my family, and the same with the upcoming Christmas days. But, the Lord consoles and rewards us when we selflessly give ourselves back to Him. After all, we are only able to do all these things because God has given us free will, and more importantly, He has loved us first!

That’s all I have for now! I’m deeply sorry for being gone from this blog for so long, the past couple months have especially been hectic with my convent visits and school work. Thank you for your patience, and especially for all prayers! Please keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine.

~VibrantCatholic