Sometimes one of the most challenging steps in pursuing a vocation to consecrated life is telling those we love! I waited months before telling my parents because I knew they’d have a lot of questions for me and I wasn’t sure how or if I’d be able to answer them. I was also afraid they would disapprove or think it was a crazy idea or some “fad” that I was going through.
As for me, I knew it was a crazy idea, and at the same time I knew it was something I felt drawn to explore! So I gave myself the space and time to explore religious life—what it is, how it’s grown over the years, and what it would be like to envision myself as a Catholic sister. I had tons of questions and needed time to feel my way around and be OK with the idea that was slowly breaking into reality.
At some point it’s time to tell your parents and the ones you love. You’ll know when it’s right—or it will slip out of its own accord. Of course they’ll have a lot of questions. You did, too, remember? Often they’ll have to go through a process similar to what you experienced: getting over the initial newness of the idea (“newness” is a gentle way to say what for me was pure shock), learning about what your vocation actually involves (“you mean that you’ll still be able to come for a family dinner once in a while”), and then envisioning you in that way of life (“my baby’s becoming a nun!”). So while it’s tough for you to be with them in all of that because you’ve got lots of questions yourself, hang in there and give it some time.
One of the most helpful things for me was to have my parents meet a couple of the nuns from the community I was joining. It gave them a chance to see what I.H.M. Sisters were really like, to see that they were normal, healthy women who weren’t going to brainwash me or lock me up in a cell someplace never to be seen again. It also helped for me to realize that my parents loved me so dearly that they would ask the hard and uncomfortable questions and that they simply wanted the best for me. So be sure to listen to and engage their concerns, objections, questions, and ideas. You’ll find them very instructive and helpful in your discernment.
Depending on where parents or loved ones are coming from, they may not always be able to support you. There can be many reasons why, and these sometimes have little to do with you. Some women and men have had to make the difficult choice to pursue their calling even with no support or even outright objections from their parents. During these times it’s important to have others who can be there to support and encourage you. And having a spiritual director is very helpful during this time to assist you in sorting out how you will peacefully be in the midst of growing in these relationships.
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