Can converts become sisters or brothers?

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Tuesday 11, May 2010 | Category:  
I am interested in becoming a sister. I am also a convert to Catholicism. Does that matter?

It is possible for a person who has converted to Catholicism to become a religious sister or brother. Many converts to Catholicism are from other Christian traditions but they may also be from other religious traditions or no tradition at all. It can take a year or several years for a person to learn about the Catholic faith and become a full member of the Catholic Church.

Typically religious communities require that a convert be Catholic for at least two years before they can formally seek entrance. That gives the person who converted time and space to live the Catholic faith in “ordinary time”—that is, everyday life with all its ups and downs and in betweens.

During the time that one is preparing to become a Catholic, usually a process that follows the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a person can certainly explore religious life and learn about sisters and brothers and their mission and way of life. It’s important, however, to tend to the calling to become Catholic, because that is its own calling from God.

When a person and a religious community are ready to begin a formal discernment with one another, there is nothing that is really different between a convert’s experience and a lifelong Catholic’s experience. It is important in so far as it is a significant landmark on our spiritual journey, and for each of us those landmarks will be different or have different meanings attached to them. And if there are areas that a new member needs more study or training in—be it Catholic theology, or pastoral care, or professional skills—the community may encourage them to pursue those.

These are good things to talk about with your spiritual director or vocation director who can help you integrate your calling to the Catholic faith with a calling to religious life or any other form of consecrated life as a Catholic person.

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