Resources for older/disabled discerners

By Joel Schorn  While many religious communities do not consider candidates for membership over (or below) a certain age or who have certain disabilities, there are some places to turn for older or diabled people who feel called to religious life.

For older discerners

While many religious communities do not consider candidates for membership over (or below) a certain age, there are some places to turn for older people who feel called to religious life.

1. The Community Search section of this website, filtered by age 45.

2. See the “Older vocations” article by Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M. in the VISION Vocation Network’s Q&A: On Vocations section.

3. Some Benedictine women’s communities who may consider older candidates. (Note: Policies amd contact information may change and VISION cannot guarantee these communities now consider older candidates. Check with the communities individually):

• St. Martin Monastery, Rapid City, SD 605-343-8011, srmarywegher@yahoo.com, Limit: 55.
• Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL, 256-734-2199, vocations@shmon.org. Limit: 50 but will make some exceptions.
• St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN, 218-723-6646, mcshambour@duluthosb.org. Limit: 50 but will make some exceptions.
• St. Benedict Monastery, Canyon, TX, nuns@osbcanyontx.org. Limit: 60.
• Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, ID, 208-962-5024, vocation@stgertrudes.org. No age limit.
• Mother of God Monastery, Watertown, SD, 605- 822-6609, vocations@dailypost.com. Limit: 60.
• Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Bristow, VA, 703-298-5337, vocations@osbva.org. Limit: 21 to “no cut-off age.”
• Benet Hill, Colorado Springs, CO, 719-633-0655, benet@qwest.net. No age limit.
• St. Walburg Monastery, Covington KY, 859-331-6324, bauerosb@yahoo.com. No cut off age.
• Mt. St. Benedict Monastery, Crookston, MN, 218-281-3441, ademers@msb.net. Over 50 in some circumstances.
• St. Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, WI, 714-834-3176, vocation@saintbede.org. Limit: 50 but will make exceptions.
• Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, 908-352-4278 ext. 274, SrMariette@aol.com. No cut-off age.
• Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 412-931-2844 ext. 118, listening@osbpgh.org. Limit: 60 on a case-by-case basis.
• St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, IL, 309-283-2300, rbussan@smmsisters.org. Opens their Benedictine Experience Weekends to single women, 18-50 years old.
• The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth consider older candidates: voc4naz@aol.com; www.nazarethcsfn.org, as do the Daughters of the Heart of Mary.

4. Other options for consecrated life which may not involve age restrictions include associate programs, secular third orders, secular institutes, and other new communities of consecrated life. Read the current VISION listings for communities, institutes, and associations in the directory section.

Secular third orders are associations of laypeople who follow the inspiration and guidance of a religious order while living in the world. Third order members are usually received into the religious community in a particular ceremony and pledge themselves to certain prayers and religious practices.
 
Some religious orders now include associate membership, which allows single and married laypeople to maintain a close bond with the community. The requirements and commitments between communities and their “associates” or “co-members” vary with each religious order. Generally, associate members feel drawn to the charism—the spirit and mission—of the community and pledge to carry out prayer and works of service according to the community’s charism and their own abilities and integrate that spirit into their way of life. They usually take part in some communal activities of the community.
 
A recent study found there are more than 27,000 associate members of religious institutes in the United States. For more information, see the website of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.
Secular institutes are a form of consecrated life in which members live a life of celibate chastity, poverty, and obedience through the witness of their Christian lives and their apostolic activity wherever they are employed. Generally members do not live in community as do members of religious institutes, though they may. Secular institutes are for laywomen, laymen, and diocesan priests. Periodically, members of respective institutes come together for retreats, meetings, and renewal. For more information, see the website of the United States Conference of Secular Institutes.

For discerners with disabilities

Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified
Founded in France in 1930, the Roman Catholic Order of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified is one of the few religious orders that widely accepts women with physical disabilities. The order maintains a U.S. presence in the Connecticut Monastery of the Glorious Cross, a fully accessible facility that is currently home to 21 sisters. Sister Mary Zita, O.S.B., vocation director, says the community is able to accept women who are blind, have heart conditions, diabetes, orthopedic conditions, post-polio conditions, and spinal bifida. They do not accept women with mental or neurological disorders.

"Our proper charism within the Benedictine family,” the community says, “is to embody a joyful participation in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Ours is a daily ‘Passover’ lived out in the contemplation of Jesus Crucified and in the radiance of his resurrection. We embody the Paschal Mystery in a monastic life that brings together sisters in good health and sisters in fragile health or with a physical handicap."

For more information, contact:
Sister Mary Zita, O.S.B.
Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified
Monastery of the Glorious Cross
61 Burban Dr.
Branford, CT 06405-4003
monasterygc@juno.com
http://www.benedictinesjc.org/aboutUs.html

Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus Crucified
The Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus Crucified is a secular institute for women and men founded in 1987 in Albany, New York and was approved as an association of the faithful in 1992. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity, especially for persons with disabilities, to live a life of total consecration and the pursuit of holiness in the apostolate of service to the church and to those who suffer in any way.

For more information contact:
Louise D. Principe, F.M.J.C.
400 Central Ave., Apt. 3D
Albany, NY 12206-2207
518-438-5887
louisefmjc@cs.com
http://fmjc.bwatts.org

Victorious Missionaries
The Victorious Missionaries provide a spiritual network for persons with a disability or chronic illness. The organization, the largest of its kind in the U.S., began in 1964 and is headquartered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois.

The group says: "We are a visionary people called to a way of life that sees beyond the suffering and struggles of life to the victory that is born through the spirit of love. People with disabilities have gifts, too—gifts that can and should be shared with the universal church and the world!"

For more information contact:
Victorious Missionaries
442 S. DeMazenod Dr.
Belleville, IL 62221-1023
Brother Tom Ruhmann, O.M.I.
618-394-6282
Billie Munie
618-394-6281
http://www.vmusa.org/
Joel Schorn is managing editor of VISION.
2011 © TrueQuest Communications

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