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FAQs

Religious Life > FAQs


Searching for answers? You've come to the right place. The following questions are grouped by age.

Grade School  |  High School  |  College Student  |  Post-College and Second Career Women and Men


Grade School FAQ

Why should I think about becoming a religious?
Because Jesus and our faithful people need good religious!  

What do religious do all day?
They do God’s work here on earth.  Religious pray, help people teach, work with the poor, and do many other life-giving things! 

Are most religious happy?
Yes, most religious are very happy and find their lives rewarding. 

Is it easy to become a religious brother or sister?
It takes time and hard work to become a good baseball player or piano player.  It’s the same with becoming a good religious sister or brother.  But don’t let that discourage you!  Anything worthwhile takes time and hard work. 

What’s a convent or monastery?
A place is a school where religious women (convent) or religious men (monastery) live.                       

What should I do if I think I may want to become a religious brother or sister someday?
Get involved in your parish as an altar server or maybe as a reader. Talk to your parish priest or religious in school or in your parish and, most importantly, keep saying your prayers and going to Church. You may also want to look at http://www.visionguide.info/.

Top


High School FAQ

Am I holy enough to become a religious?
No one is “worthy” of the gifts God bestows, but each of us, regardless of the vocation we are given, is called to holiness.  Still, we are all sinners.   But, Jesus always surrounded himself with sinners!  His twelve apostles were far from being perfect!  Our Lord can and does call generous, faithful and imperfect persons to grow in holiness as married, single, priests or religious.  God loves and calls us just the way we are.     

What about chastity?
Religious promise to live chastity as well as the vows of poverty and obedience.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t attracted to marriage or wouldn’t be good parents or spouses.  Rather, through prayer, people called to religious life have determined that God invites them to serve as religious and not as a parent or spouse.   

Will I be lonely as a Religious?
Periods of loneliness are a part of every person’s life, including those who are married.  Extended loneliness occurs when a person is disconnected from others and does not have close, healthy relationships with other people.  Because of the nature of their work, religious brothers and sisters have numerous occasions to develop life-long friendships with other men and women.  The idea that religious life is lonelier than other professions or vocations is false.  

What are religious vows all about?
A religious brother or sister vows chastity, poverty and obedience to God and lives these out in a religious community.  These are promises to God to live a sacrificial and counter cultural life in imitation of Jesus.  During novitiate, the person studies all about the meaning of these vows and practices living them.   

How does someone know if they are “called” by God to be a religious?
See "Signs and Qualities"

Why should I consider the possibility of becoming a religious brother or sister?
Because the Church needs some of our best young people to serve as religious!  If God is asking you to spend your life in this way, go for it!  Religious brothers and sisters witness God’s unconditional love by their very lives!   People greatly value the role religious brothers or sisters play in their lives.  In times of great joy and times of great pain, a religious sister or brother can bring the compassion of Christ to others. How wonderful! 

Is it easy to become a religious brother or religious sister?
No, it’s not easy to become a religious; it takes time and hard work.  A person who wants to become a religious brother or sister will prepare for 5 – 9 years following high school.  But don’t get discouraged!  If you’re called to be a religious, God will give you the grace to do whatever is necessary.  Besides, nothing worthwhile in life is easy.  Think of the years it takes for one to be a doctor, lawyer or any worthwhile helping profession?  

What sort of training is needed to become a religious?  How long does it take?
See What's the Process

What is the difference between a “diocesan” priest and a “religious order” priest?
A diocesan priest is largely a “parish priest.”  The word “diocesan” comes from a Greek word meaning “to keep house.”  The word “parish” is another Greek word, which means “a dwelling beside or near.”  A diocesan priest is the priest involved in the day-to-day lives of people.  The diocesan priest “dwells near” his people and helps the bishop “to keep house” in the family of God either as an associate pastor or pastor (and sometimes in ministries such as teaching, campus ministry, canon law, or as hospital, military or prison chaplains.)  A parish priest in the Diocese of Albany is committed to the family of God living in a fourteen county region of upstate New York.  See “About our Diocese

A religious order priest belongs to a community of men bound together by faith and a common charisma.  The heart of their religious vocation lies in belonging to their religious community.  It is not necessary to be a priest in order to belong to a religious order; those who are not priests are called brothers.  The priests and brothers of a religious community may engage in any kind of work for the Church and the good of humanity in any area of the world; they often specialize in work such as education, work with the sick and poor, and service in foreign missions.

Why is religious life often called consecrated religious life?  
A man or woman consecrates themselves to God through the promise of the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.  This means that they freely and willingly choose to live their lives in an exclusive relationship with God.  As a man or woman says “no” to other life vocations, when he or she pronounces marriage vows, so too, religious woman and men commit to live their lives only for God.  All that they do in regard to their ministry is an overflow and expression of this consecration.  Their consecration does not make them “better.”  It is a different way of living the holiness to which each human being is called.

Is the life of a religious interesting?  What does a sister or brother do all day anyway?
Yes, it’s interesting because no day is ever the same.  There is no end to the varied ways that religious women and men spend their lives for God and for God’s people.  They teach about God and Christian values in classrooms and discussion groups.  They listen to their people’s joys and sorrows and take initiative to promote works of charity and social justice.  They work with the elderly, teens, young adults and parents.  They visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful and tend to the unexpected needs that people bring to them each day.  The life of a consecrated religious man or woman is busy and demands stamina and spiritual maturity. When a consecrated person goes to bed at night, he or she can say, “Lord, you and I did some good work today.” What a wonderful thought to end one’s day!   The consecrated life as a religious will cost sacrifice and self-denial.  It will be most difficult to consistently think of others before oneself.  But, this kind of life is the most rewarding. 

Do religious get any time off?
The Lord took his apostles apart for some rest after they had worked hard preaching and healing (Mark 6:31-32).  Religious men and women work hard too, and they need to rest as well.  They get a day off per week and four weeks of vacation each year.  Like anyone else, consecrated religious must find time for exercise, relaxation and rest.  They know it is wise and healthy to spend time with friends and to take time to pursue hobbies such as sports, music, movies, etc.   The consecrated religious also makes an annual retreat to experience the loving touch of our Lord.  These times of retreat are blessed times of spiritual renewal. 

Are most consecrated religious happy?
Yes.  A recent survey showed that the vast majority of consecrated religious would chose religious life again if they had to do it over again. 

Do you lose your freedom as a religious brother or sister?
Yes and no.  No responsible person can live free of all obligations to others; otherwise, that person would lead a totally selfish life.  A consecrated religious freely chooses to live a life of service to God and God’s people, and freely chooses to reject a self-centered life.  In that decision, there is a loss of some freedom.  But religious women and men can testify to the fact that there is a great freedom to be creative in religious life.  The religious community tries to match the religious with the work for which he/she is well suited.   This allows the person to freely exercise creativity in the service of God. 

Do you have to pray a lot as a religious?
You’d better pray or your “well” will dry up!  Prayer is at the very heart of religious life.  It’s difficult to have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ without prayer.  Religious men and women are of little use to their people if they are not people of prayer.  Consecrated religious pray together as a community and also take time each day for personal prayer.  Daily Mass is important to them.  For those who work in active ministry, the rest of the day is spent serving our faithful people in the many ways that is accomplished. 

Do you earn money as a consecrated religious?
Yes.  Religious sisters and brothers receive a modest salary from the diocese or institution they serve.  The money they receive is used to pay medical and other necessity expenses.  It is given to the Community to which they belong and, in turn, the Community provides for their room and board, food and clothing and other human needs.  Out of that salary they buy their clothes, religious men and women are encouraged to live a simple lifestyle.  If you’re looking for wealth and accumulation of material goods, try a different website! 

The thought of consecrated religious life scares me a bit.  Any advice?
Jesus’ disciples often experienced the same fear as you in their attempt to follow our Lord.  Jesus’ response to their anxiety was always the same: “do not fear” (Mt. 14:27).  Don’t allow fear to prevent you from seriously considering the possibility of religious life; fear is one of the subtle ways employed by Satan to prevent us from following the will of God and having a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.   There are many communities that will take the time to help you gradually understand what the life of a religious is all about and thus, dispel any fears of the unknown, which a person may have.  Some even allow serious discerners to live for an extended amount of time within the community, to see first-hand how normal and regular consecrated religious life is.  The Vocation Office is here to help you connect with the religious community that you may want to explore. 

I’ve thought about the possibility of religious life in the past but I’m not ready to make any kind of commitment.  What should I do?
First, stay active in your parish as an altar server, parish council member, lector, Eucharistic minister, choir member or in the youth group.  Second, get involved in some service work and see how you react to it.  Does it bring you joy or is it a burden?  Third, pray regularly.  Ask God what he wants you to do with your life.  Keep your heart open to wherever God needs you to use your gifts and talents.  Fourth, learn more about religious life by participating in activities offered by the vocation office.  See “upcoming events”.  Not only will you learn more about consecrated religious life by participating in these activities, you will not get any pressure or “hard-sell” and you’ll find that you’re not the only one thinking about religious life!  Fifth, visit a religious community and talk to them. 

What qualities does one look for in a candidate for religious life?
The qualities include a practicing Catholic who: attends mass regularly, has an active prayer life with God, lives out the commandments, has a desire to serve God and others, is emotionally/spiritually/physically healthy, has a love for the poor, is generous and compassionate, has at least average intelligence, likes working with people and has the social skills to do so, is open to will of God in his life, has a love for the Church, is open to a diversity of cultures, and loves life.  Remember, this does not mean that a person is expected to be perfect.  

What should I do if I think I may want to be a religious sister or brother someday?
Get involved in your parish as an altar server, parish council member, lector, eucharistic minister, religious education teacher, sing in the choir, join a parish youth group or volunteer in a parish outreach program.  Reflect on your experience of ministry.  Does it excite you or does it drag you down? 

Come and meet other high school students who are considering religious life as an option in their lives too.  Visit a religious community and attend a religious profession ceremony.  For more information on these and other practical ideas, contact Fr. Anthony F. Ligato in our vocation office.  Most importantly, continue to pray asking God what he needs you to do with your life.  If you feel that attraction to consecrated religious life or God’s gentle “tugging,” don’t ignore it!!  

Other questions?
Ask Fr. Anthony F. Ligato at frligato@nycap.rr.com

Top


College Student FAQ

Am I holy enough to become a religious?
No one is “worthy” of the gifts God bestows, but each of us, regardless of the vocation we are given, is called to holiness.  Still, we are all sinners.   But, Jesus always surrounded himself with sinners!  His twelve apostles were far from being perfect!  Our Lord can and does call generous, faithful and imperfect persons to grow in holiness as married, single, priests or religious.  God loves and calls us just the way we are.   

What about chastity?
Religious promise to live chastity as well as the vows of poverty and obedience.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t attracted to marriage or wouldn’t be good parents or spouses.  Rather, through prayer, people called to religious life have determined that God invites them to serve as religious and not as a parent or spouse.   

Will I be lonely as a Religious?
Periods of loneliness are a part of every person’s life, including those who are married.  Extended loneliness occurs when a person is disconnected from others and does not have close, healthy relationships with other people.  Because of the nature of their work, religious brothers and sisters have numerous occasions to develop life-long friendships with other men and women.  The idea that religious life is lonelier than other professions or vocations is false.  

What are religious vows all about?
A religious brother or sister vows chastity, poverty and obedience to God and lives these out in a religious community.  These are promises to God to live a sacrificial and counter cultural life in imitation of Jesus.  During novitiate, the person studies all about the meaning of these vows and practices living them.  

How does someone know if they are “called” by God to be a religious?
See "Signs and Qualities"

Why should I consider the possibility of becoming a religious brother or sister?
Because the Church needs some of our best young people to serve as religious!  If God is asking you to spend your life in this way, go for it!  Religious brothers and sisters witness God’s unconditional love by their very lives!   People greatly value the role religious brothers or sisters play in their lives.  In times of great joy and times of great pain, a religious sister or brother can bring the compassion of Christ to others. How wonderful! 

Is it easy to become a religious brother or a religious sister?
No, it’s not easy to become a religious; it takes time and hard work.  A person who wants to become a religious brother or sister will prepare for 5 – 9 years following high school.  But don’t get discouraged!  If you’re called to be a religious, God will give you the grace to do whatever is necessary.  Besides, nothing worthwhile in life is easy.  Think of the years it takes for one to be a doctor, lawyer or any worthwhile helping profession?  

What sort of training is needed to become a religious?  How long does it take?
See "What's the process"

What is the difference between a “diocesan” priest and a “religious order” priest?
A diocesan priest is largely a “parish priest.”  The word “diocesan” comes from a Greek word meaning “to keep house.”  The word “parish” is another Greek word, which means “a dwelling beside or near.”  A diocesan priest is the priest involved in the day-to-day lives of people.  The diocesan priest “dwells near” his people and helps the bishop “to keep house” in the family of God either as an associate pastor or pastor (and sometimes in ministries such as teaching, campus ministry, canon law, or as hospital, military or prison chaplains.)  A parish priest in the Diocese of Albany is committed to the family of God living in a fourteen county region of upstate New York.  See “About our Diocese” 

A religious order priest belongs to a community of men bound together by faith and a common charisma.  The heart of their religious vocation lies in belonging to their religious community.  It is not necessary to be a priest in order to belong to a religious order; those who are not priests are called brothers.  The priests and brothers of a religious community may engage in any kind of work for the Church and the good of humanity in any area of the world; they often specialize in work such as education, work with the sick and poor, and service in foreign missions. See "Finding a Community"

Why is religious life often called consecrated religious life?  
A man or woman consecrates themselves to God through the promise of the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.  This means that they freely and willingly choose to live their lives in an exclusive relationship with God.  As a man or woman says “no” to other life vocations, when he or she pronounces marriage vows, so too, religious woman and men commit to live their lives only for God.  All that they do in regard to their ministry is an overflow and expression of this consecration.  Their consecration does not make them “better.”  It is a different way of living the holiness to which each human being is called. 

Is the life of a religious interesting?  What does a sister or brother do all day anyway?
Yes, it’s interesting because no day is ever the same.  There is no end to the varied ways that religious women and men spend their lives for God and for God’s people.  They teach about God and Christian values in classrooms and discussion groups.  They listen to their people’s joys and sorrows and take initiative to promote works of charity and social justice.  They work with the elderly, teens, young adults and parents.  They visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful and tend to the unexpected needs that people bring to them each day.  The life of a consecrated religious man or woman is busy and demands stamina and spiritual maturity. When a consecrated person goes to bed at night, he or she can say, “Lord, you and I did some good work today.” What a wonderful thought to end one’s day!   The consecrated life as a religious will cost sacrifice and self-denial.  It will be most difficult to consistently think of others before oneself.  But, this kind of life is the most rewarding. 

Do religious get any time off?
The Lord took his apostles apart for some rest after they had worked hard preaching and healing (Mark 6:31-32).  Religious men and women work hard too, and they need to rest as well.  They get a day off per week and four weeks of vacation each year.  Like anyone else, consecrated religious must find time for exercise, relaxation and rest.  They know it is wise and healthy to spend time with friends and to take time to pursue hobbies such as sports, music, movies, etc.   The consecrated religious also makes an annual retreat to experience the loving touch of our Lord.  These times of retreat are blessed times of spiritual renewal. 

Are most consecrated religious happy?
Yes.  A recent survey showed that the vast majority of consecrated religious would chose religious life again if they had to do it over again. 

Do you lose your freedom as a religious brother or sister?
Yes and no.  No responsible person can live free of all obligations to others; otherwise, that person would lead a totally selfish life.  A consecrated religious freely chooses to live a life of service to God and God’s people, and freely chooses to reject a self-centered life.  In that decision, there is a loss of some freedom.  But religious women and men can testify to the fact that there is a great freedom to be creative in religious life.  The religious community tries to match the religious with the work for which he/she is well suited.   This allows the person to freely exercise creativity in the service of God. 

Do you have to pray a lot as a religious?
You’d better pray or your “well” will dry up!  Prayer is at the very heart of religious life.  It’s difficult to have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ without prayer.  Religious men and women are of little use to their people if they are not people of prayer.  Consecrated religious pray together as a community and also take time each day for personal prayer.  Daily Mass is important to them.  For those who work in active ministry, the rest of the day is spent serving our faithful people in the many ways that is accomplished. 

Do you earn money as a consecrated religious?
Yes.  Religious sisters and brothers receive a modest salary from the diocese or institution they serve.  The money they receive is used to pay medical and other necessity expenses.  It is given to the Community to which they belong and, in turn, the Community provides for their room and board, food and clothing and other human needs.  Out of that salary they buy their clothes, religious men and women are encouraged to live a simple lifestyle.  If you’re looking for wealth and accumulation of material goods, try a different website! 

The thought of consecrated religious life scares me a bit.  Any advice?
Jesus’ disciples often experienced the same fear as you in their attempt to follow our Lord.  Jesus’ response to their anxiety was always the same: “do not fear” (Mt. 14:27).  Don’t allow fear to prevent you from seriously considering the possibility of religious life; fear is one of the subtle ways employed by Satan to prevent us from following the will of God and having a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.   There are many communities that will take the time to help you gradually understand what the life of a religious is all about and thus, dispel any fears of the unknown, which a person may have.  Some even allow serious discerners to live for an extended amount of time within the community, to see first-hand how normal and regular consecrated religious life is.  The Vocation Office is here to help you connect with the religious community that you may want to explore. 

I’ve thought about the possibility of religious life in the past but I’m not ready to make any kind of commitment.  What should I do?
First, stay active in your parish as an altar server, parish council member, lector, Eucharistic minister, choir member or in the youth group.  Second, get involved in some service work and see how you react to it.  Does it bring you joy or is it a burden?  Third, pray regularly.  Ask God what he wants you to do with your life.  Keep your heart open to wherever God needs you to use your gifts and talents.  Fourth, learn more about religious life by participating in activities offered by the vocation office.  See “upcoming events”. Not only will you learn more about consecrated religious life by participating in these activities, you will not get any pressure or “hard-sell” and you’ll find that you’re not the only one thinking about religious life!  Fifth, visit a religious community or a religious order and talk to them. 

What qualities does one look for in a candidate for religious life?
The qualities include a practicing Catholic who: attends mass regularly, has an active prayer life with God, lives out the commandments, has a desire to serve God and others, is emotionally/spiritually/physically healthy, has a love for the poor, is generous and compassionate, has at least average intelligence, likes working with people and has the social skills to do so, is open to will of God in his life, has a love for the Church, is open to a diversity of cultures, and loves life.  Remember, this does not mean that a person is expected to be perfect.   

I’ve thought about the possibility of religious life in the past but I’m not ready to make any kind of commitment.  What should I do as a first step?
First, stay active in your parish or campus Newman Club as an altar server, parish council member, lector, Eucharistic minister, choir member or religious education teacher.  Second, get involved in some service work and see how you react to it.  Does it bring you joy or is it a burden?  Third, pray regularly.  Ask God what he wants you to do with your life.  Keep your heart open to wherever God needs you to use your gifts and talents.  Fourth, get a spiritual director with whom you can talk honestly and openly.  Fifth, learn more about religious life by participating in activities offered by the vocation office.  See “upcoming events”. Not only will you learn more about religious life by participating in these activities, you’ll meet other talented and faithful young people who are dreaming of, and struggling with, the same things you are. 

Also, it would be helpful to make an appointment with Fr. Anthony F. Ligato in our Vocation Office. Meeting with her will give you the opportunity to have many of your questions answered.  She will also be able to guide you in what steps you may want to consider in further discerning your possible call to religious life.  You’ll get no pressure or “hard-sell.” 

What should I do if I think I may want to be a religious sister or brother someday?
Get involved in your Newman Association on campus as an altar server, parish council member, lector, eucharistic minister, religious education teacher, sing in the choir, join a Newman service group or volunteer in a parish outreach program.  Reflect on your experience of ministry.  Does it excite you or does it drag you down? 

Come and meet other high school students who are considering religious life as an option in their lives too.  Visit a religious community and attend a religious profession ceremony.  For more information on these and other practical ideas, contact Fr. Anthony F. Ligato in our vocation office.  Most importantly, continue to pray asking God what he needs you to do with your life.  If you feel that attraction to consecrated religious life or God’s gentle “tugging,” don’t ignore it!!   

Other questions?
Ask Fr. Anthony F. Ligato at frligato@nycap.rr.com

Top


Post-College and Second Career Women and Men FAQ

Am I holy enough to become a religious?
No one is “worthy” of the gifts God bestows, but each of us, regardless of the vocation we are given, is called to holiness.  Still, we are all sinners.   But, Jesus always surrounded himself with sinners!  His twelve apostles were far from being perfect!  Our Lord can and does call generous, faithful and imperfect persons to grow in holiness as married, single, priests or religious.  God loves and calls us just the way we are.     

What about chastity?
Religious promise to live chastity as well as the vows of poverty and obedience.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t attracted to marriage or wouldn’t be good parents or spouses.  Rather, through prayer, people called to religious life have determined that God invites them to serve as religious and not as a parent or spouse.   

Will I be lonely as a Religious?
Periods of loneliness are a part of every person’s life, including those who are married.  Extended loneliness occurs when a person is disconnected from others and does not have close, healthy relationships with other people.  Because of the nature of their work, religious brothers and sisters have numerous occasions to develop life-long friendships with other men and women.  The idea that religious life is lonelier than other professions or vocations is false.  

I’ve been sexually active in the past?  Will that prevent me from becoming a religious?
Not necessarily.  Before applying to a Community, you are required to be chaste (not involved in sexual activity) for a minimum of two to three years.  It’s very important that a candidate be able to prove to oneself and to the Church that he or she can lead a chaste life, and be happy and healthy in doing so. 

I’m widowed.  Is religious life a possibility for me?
Yes.  There are many fine examples of men and women who married, were widowed and are now religious.  Most Communities require widows or widowers to allow a minimum of three years between the death of their spouse and applying for religious life.  Further, if children are involved, a widow or widower cannot apply until the children have been raised and had the opportunity for a college education. 

Is there an upper age limit for someone to apply to religious life?
Yes.  You should inquire with the religious community that interests you, regarding their age requirements. 

What are religious vows all about?
A religious brother or sister vows chastity, poverty and obedience to God and lives these out in a religious community.  These are promises to God to live a sacrificial and counter cultural life in imitation of Jesus.  During novitiate, the person studies all about the meaning of these vows and practices living them. 

How does someone know if they are “called” by God to be a religious?
See "Signs and Qualities"

Why should I consider the possibility of becoming a religious brother or sister?
Because the Church needs some of our best people to serve as religious!  If God is asking you to spend your life in this way, go for it!  Religious brothers and sisters witness God’s unconditional love by their very lives!   People greatly value the role religious brothers or sisters play in their lives.  In times of great joy and times of great pain, a religious sister or brother can bring the compassion of Christ to others. How wonderful! 

Is it easy to become a religious brother or religious sister?
No, it’s not easy to become a religious; it takes time and hard work.  A person who wants to become a religious brother or sister will prepare for 5 – 9 years following high school.  But don’t get discouraged!  If you’re called to be a religious, God will give you the grace to do whatever is necessary.  Besides, nothing worthwhile in life is easy.  Think of the years it takes for one to be a doctor, lawyer or any worthwhile helping profession?  

What sort of training is needed to become a religious?  How long does it take?
See "What's the Process"

 What is the difference between a “diocesan” priest and a “religious order” priest?
A diocesan priest is largely a “parish priest.”  The word “diocesan” comes from a Greek word meaning “to keep house.”  The word “parish” is another Greek word, which means “a dwelling beside or near.”  A diocesan priest is the priest involved in the day-to-day lives of people.  The diocesan priest “dwells near” his people and helps the bishop “to keep house” in the family of God either as an associate pastor or pastor (and sometimes in ministries such as teaching, campus ministry, canon law, or as hospital, military or prison chaplains.)  A parish priest in the Diocese of Albany is committed to the family of God living in a fourteen county region of upstate New York.  See “About our Diocese

A religious order priest belongs to a community of men bound together by faith and a common charisma.  The heart of their religious vocation lies in belonging to their religious community.  It is not necessary to be a priest in order to belong to a religious order; those who are not priests are called brothers.  The priests and brothers of a religious community may engage in any kind of work for the Church and the good of humanity in any area of the world; they often specialize in work such as education, work with the sick and poor, and service in foreign missions. See "Finding a Community"

Why is religious life often called consecrated religious life?  
A man or woman consecrates themselves to God through the promise of the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.  This means that they freely and willingly choose to live their lives in an exclusive relationship with God.  As a man or woman says “no” to other life vocations, when he or she pronounces marriage vows, so too, religious woman and men commit to live their lives only for God.  All that they do in regard to their ministry is an overflow and expression of this consecration.  Their consecration does not make them “better.”  It is a different way of living the holiness to which each human being is called. 

Is the life of a religious interesting?  What does a sister or brother do all day anyway?
Yes, it’s interesting because no day is ever the same.  There is no end to the varied ways that religious women and men spend their lives for God and for God’s people.  They teach about God and Christian values in classrooms and discussion groups.  They listen to their people’s joys and sorrows and take initiative to promote works of charity and social justice.  They work with the elderly, teens, young adults and parents.  They visit the sick, comfort the sorrowful and tend to the unexpected needs that people bring to them each day.  The life of a consecrated religious man or woman is busy and demands stamina and spiritual maturity. When a consecrated person goes to bed at night, he or she can say, “Lord, you and I did some good work today.” What a wonderful thought to end one’s day!   The consecrated life as a religious will cost sacrifice and self-denial.  It will be most difficult to consistently think of others before oneself.  But, this kind of life is the most rewarding. 

Do religious get any time off?
The Lord took his apostles apart for some rest after they had worked hard preaching and healing (Mark 6:31-32).  Religious men and women work hard too, and they need to rest as well.  They get a day off per week and four weeks of vacation each year.  Like anyone else, consecrated religious must find time for exercise, relaxation and rest.  They know it is wise and healthy to spend time with friends and to take time to pursue hobbies such as sports, music, movies, etc.   The consecrated religious also makes an annual retreat to experience the loving touch of our Lord.  These times of retreat are blessed times of spiritual renewal. 

Are most consecrated religious happy?
Yes.  A recent survey showed that the vast majority of consecrated religious would chose religious life again if they had to do it over again. 

Do you lose your freedom as a religious brother or sister?
Yes and no.  No responsible person can live free of all obligations to others; otherwise, that person would lead a totally selfish life.  A consecrated religious freely chooses to live a life of service to God and God’s people, and freely chooses to reject a self-centered life.  In that decision, there is a loss of some freedom.  But religious women and men can testify to the fact that there is a great freedom to be creative in religious life.  The religious community tries to match the religious with the work for which he/she is well suited.   This allows the person to freely exercise creativity in the service of God. 

Do you have to pray a lot as a religious?
You’d better pray or your “well” will dry up!  Prayer is at the very heart of religious life.  It’s difficult to have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ without prayer.  Religious men and women are of little use to their people if they are not people of prayer.  Consecrated religious pray together as a community and also take time each day for personal prayer.  Daily Mass is important to them.  For those who work in active ministry, the rest of the day is spent serving our faithful people in the many ways that is accomplished. 

Do you earn money as a consecrated religious?
Yes.  Religious sisters and brothers receive a modest salary from the diocese or institution they serve.  The money they receive is used to pay medical and other necessity expenses.  It is given to the Community to which they belong and, in turn, the Community provides for their room and board, food and clothing and other human needs.  Out of that salary they buy their clothes, religious men and women are encouraged to live a simple lifestyle.  If you’re looking for wealth and accumulation of material goods, try a different website! 

The thought of consecrated religious life scares me a bit.  Any advice?
Jesus’ disciples often experienced the same fear as you in their attempt to follow our Lord.  Jesus’ response to their anxiety was always the same: “do not fear” (Mt. 14:27).  Don’t allow fear to prevent you from seriously considering the possibility of religious life; fear is one of the subtle ways employed by Satan to prevent us from following the will of God and having a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.   There are many communities that will take the time to help you gradually understand what the life of a religious is all about and thus, dispel any fears of the unknown, which a person may have.  Some even allow serious discerners to live for an extended amount of time within the community, to see first-hand how normal and regular consecrated religious life is.  The Vocation Office is here to help you connect with the religious community that you may want to explore. 

I’ve thought about the possibility of priesthood in the past but I’m not ready to make any kind of commitment.  What should I do as a first step?
First, stay active in your parish as a parish council member, lector, Eucharistic minister, choir member or religious education teacher.  Second, get involved in some kind of service work and see how you react to it.  Does it bring you joy or is it a burden?  Third, pray regularly.  None of us can figure our God’s will for us if we don’t spend time with the Master.  Ask God what he wants you to do with your life.  Keep your heart open to wherever our Lord needs you to use your gifts and talents.  Fourth, get a spiritual director with whom you can talk openly and honestly.  Fifth, learn more about religious life by participating in activities offered by the vocation office.  See “upcoming events”. Not only will you learn more about consecrated life by participating in these activities, but you’ll meet other people who are dreaming of, and struggling with, the same things you are. 

Also, it would be helpful to make an appointment with Fr. Anthony F. Ligato in our Vocation Office. Meeting with her will give you the opportunity to have your questions answered.  She will also be able to guide you in what steps you may want to consider in further discerning your possible call to religious life.  You’ll get no pressure or “hard-sell.”  Fifth, visit a religious community or a religious order and talk to them. 

What qualities does one look for in a candidate for religious life?
The qualities include a practicing Catholic who: attends mass regularly, has an active prayer life with God, lives out the commandments, has a desire to serve God and others, is emotionally/spiritually/physically healthy, has a love for the poor, is generous and compassionate, has at least average intelligence, likes working with people and has the social skills to do so, is open to will of God in his life, has a love for the Church, is open to a diversity of cultures, and loves life.  Remember, this does not mean that a person is expected to be perfect.   

Other questions?
Ask Fr. Anthony F. Ligato frligato@nycap.rr.com

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