NFCRV helps women become sisters
Image: Sisters frequently study theology and other subjects during their formation years. Pictured here are theology students at Catholic Theological Union.
Research has shown that more than 1,000 religious vocations are lost each year due to educational debt. With the average student debt at $35,000 (in 2016), religious communities simply cannot afford to service the student loans of prospective candidates to religious life. Young adults with educational debt either self-select out of the process of entering religious life or must defer their vocations until they are debt-free, which can take years.
Now, thanks to the 2015 establishment of the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV), with inital funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and GHR Foundation, eight religious communities are able to welcome 10 new candidates (featured here) to pursue their dreams of becoming Catholic sisters. For information on the 2016 men’s and women’s community grantees and to the learn more about the fund, go to NFCRV.org.
Ana Gonzalez, Dominican Sisters of Peace
What is most surprising about religious life?
I thought sisters would be lonely. I didn’t see the role community played. Now as a candidate living in a community I know sisters are never alone. There is that sisterly bond.
Boram Lee, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
What was the turning point that made you consider becoming a nun?
I had an opportunity to go on this mission trip to Haiti. I spent a week there living with the clergy and the religious sisters and brothers of that order. I felt so much joy and beauty in their life, which was being used completely to serve other people. I thought maybe I could have a fulfilling life, too, living in this way.
Christina Chavez, Congregation of Divine Providence
What made you choose religious life?
I remember asking some sisters, “How do you know what you are doing with your life?“ and they said that they were still discerning—it blew my mind. I was interested in finding out what it takes to become a nun. I googled it from my cell phone and Vision Vocation Match came up. That’s when the journey began.
Regina Garofalo, Felician Sisters of North America
What have you found difficult about religious life?
I have a German shepherd, and that has been hard for me to give up. Also giving up control and thinking I know what’s best. At first it was hard putting everything in God’s hands.
Eilis McCulloh, Sisters of the Humility of Mary
What would you tell someone on the fence about religious life?
I would tell them what someone told me: “Just try it.” You have a minimum of six years between candidacy and final vows, so there is time to test the waters.
Among the sisters in my community, we range from 29 to 100 years old—we laugh, we are filled with joy, we have a good time while being centered in God, all living with the same purpose.
Cialinett Colon, Daughters of Christian Charity
What made you begin to consider religious life?
I was very focused on my education—it was everything really. But there was this God-shaped hole in my life. I decided to go to Calcutta to volunteer and be where Mother Teresa started her ministry. I sensed that I really liked this. When I came back, I began to discern more seriously.
Josefina Whitmore, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
How did your education help equip you for religious life?
I think my experiences at a liberal, public college strengthened my faith and moved me more toward religious life, when at the time I was worried it was doing the opposite. That exposure prepares you to appreciate people of different faiths.
Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters
What are the differences between your academic life and your life in the church?
As an academic, you are trying to understand things and their roots. In religious life it feels more like jumping off a cliff because I don’t know what the world or my congregation will look like in 30 years. For me the journey of religious life is about putting all my faith in God.
Lauren Galt, Felician Sisters of North America
What is the most difficult part about adjusting to religious life?
Just getting used to the freedom that religious life brings. It is such a pure freedom. It is about the freedom that comes from God’s love. But I do miss sleeping in sometimes.
Margaret Uche, Dominican Sister of Peace
What would you like to say to the NFCRV and its benefactors?
I would like to thank them for helping me continue my vocation because my student loans were one of the issues I had when I entered religious life. I worried I wouldn’t get in. This grant helped me make that dream come true.
- Vocation Basics: Essentials for the vocation journey
- Community life: A place to call home
- A charism encourages a caring ministry
- The four main types of religious life
- Our newest religious possess an age-old Christian virtue: hope
- Celibacy steeped in a whole lot of love
- Benedictines believe in balance
- 17 questions about church vocations
- Consecrated life through the ages (Religious Life Timeline)
- Infographic: Who is answering the call to religious life? Read More
- Find your spirituality type
- FAQs: Frequently asked questions about vocations
- Celibacy quiz: Can you live a celibate life?
- Resources for older discerners or those with physical and developmental differences
- About Vocation Network and VISION Guide