Friday, March 1, 2013

How young is too young to consider a religious vocation?

I recently was visiting St. Peter Cathedral School in Wilmington, Delaware: where we have Sisters in ministry. I am an elementary teacher by trade although I am presently doing vocation ministry fulltime. It was nice to be with the children again and to enjoy hearing an older student read Clifford to two of the younger ones. 

So, at what age do people consider a Church vocation.  The bishops recently conducted a study:  They found that girls that became a "nun" often attend a Catholic elementary school.  The study goes on to give other factors that increase the chances of becoming a religious sister, such as, being invited/having it suggested to them.  This study didn't indicate WHEN the vocation was first considered but more the profile of those joining.

So, here I am at the elementary school and two 6th graders are brought to me who have lots of vocation questions.  The interviewer for the pair had a litany of questions ready for me.  I am unfazed that they are not even Catholic.  God is not limited by these simple obstacles.  I can tell a lot of thought has gone into these questions. 

There is a study out there somewhere that I hear referred to often, but have not tracked down yet, that highlights the openness of 11 year olds and 11th graders to the possibility of a Church vocation---hence FOCUS 11 programs.  So target school-aged groups would be 5th/6th grade and 11th graders--I actually have experienced more interest among 10th than 11th graders.

So how young is too young?  There is a Sister in my community who first considered it in first grade. At St. Peters, I was introduced to the kindergartner pictured here.  She has been sharing lately that she is going to be a Sister.  So, I, the vocation director definitely needed to meet her.  She was cute as a button and serious about this Sister-thing.  She is going to be a Sister and a teacher.  I would love to check in with her years from now and see if she did indeed decide to join a religious community--I know it is possible!

What is the average age that women first think about being a Sister?  That would be a great study to do!  My anecdotal experience tells me there is a great variety--from primary school through young adulthood.  The "older" vocations that I have met speak of first thinking about it at a much younger age but not having acted on it until later.

I first thought about being a Sister in 7th grade--I believe that I wrote that in another post.  Anyway, I forgot about it and it came back again in high school (ever so briefly) and then at the end of college. 

My conclusion to all of this?  It is never too early to bring the subject up as a possibility! 

1 comment:

  1. I grew up with the Daughters as my teachers. It didn't take long to notice that they were very different from most people. We could see, hear and experience their committment to poverty and obedience. They loved us and one another.

    I joined a "Future Sisters" club and began getting regular mailings with a personal note from the vocations director at that time (Sister Oliva). I could see a clear path to Emmittsburg for me.

    Well, that was many years ago, and during one of the most turbulent periods of change in the Church, post Vatican II. God had other plans for me. I have always treasured the memories of being taken seriously in my childhood interest in a vocation. One never knows what God has in mind for you.