Is being divorced an obstacle to religious life?

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Wednesday 16, December 2009 | Category:  

I was married and am now divorced. I recently decided to become a Catholic. Because my marriage wasn't in the church, can I still be a nun? I want to see if this course is right for me. Where can I start?

Thank you for your questions. Let's start with the first one: entering religious life having been married and divorced outside of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church generally respects the marriage vows of people regardless of their religious affiliation; every marriage is considered a promise unto death. Given that you are in the process of becoming a Catholic, I would recommend that you talk with the people who are leading the classes at your parish about your concern. They will be able to assist you in contacting the appropriate church tribunal to determine whether or not the marriage is recognized and what steps, if any, need to be taken.

The process of becoming a Catholic and of working with a tribunal can take some time. In addition, the church generally requires a waiting time (e.g., 2 years) before entering religious life for persons who are converts to the Catholic faith. The journey of becoming a nun can take minimally 5 years.

At this point I would begin by talking with the folks at your parish. Second, it is important that you get to know what being a nun is really like. Each religious community (e.g., Dominican, Loretto, Franciscan) is like a family and as such has its own unique way of expressing and living its mission. Some nuns and sisters live a more contemplative, cloistered life while others live a more active life in ministry. Both kinds of life are rooted in prayer and living the gospel. It's important to spend time seeing what you are attracted to and what God may be calling you to. I've got a number of suggestions on how to get started becoming a Catholic nun on my website. Spend time especially with the suggestions around prayer and getting to know sisters. Your parish will be able to help you locate religious communities in your area.

Blessings as you continue your journey into the Catholic faith and as you explore how God is calling you.
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