Delayed Vocations

by Therese Ivers

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in delayed vocations to the religious life. A greater number of men and women over thirty are seeking to follow Christ more closely by joining religious communities. What these people find, however, is that joining a religious community is sometimes nearly impossible because of age restrictions.

Most religious orders accept candidates who are anywhere from around 18 to about 30 or 35.  They are often reluctant to consider older candidates for a number of reasons.  The most commonly given reason is that it is often difficult for people who have lived independent lives so long to adapt to common life.  Habits of a lifetime can hinder the candidate from integrating into the community as fully as would be desirable.  While this may seem a trivial reason to those not familiar with community life, even a small habit or two that is detrimental to common life can make life difficult for everyone concerned.

Another reason that religious communities are reluctant to accept late vocations is that there are often medical or other complications which can significantly add to the community’s expenses.  While denying admission solely on the basis of minor health expenses might be risking a genuine vocation, communities have a responsibility to follow their Constitutions with respect to level of health and medical expenditure permitted in the institute.

While the majority of religious institutes have set upper age limits, some are more flexible with delayed vocations.  You may find within the same Order a house that will take candidates up to 45 or 50 years of age.  Sometimes those with late vocations may even negotiate with particular communities they feel attracted to.  The age limit is usually a guideline and if a community feels that you may be a good fit, they will waive the guidelines.

If you should be considering a vocation and are approaching your early forties or fifties, there is definitely hope!  God bless you in your journey.

(c) 2007 by Therese Ivers and DoIHaveAVocation.com

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