Religious Life

Diocese of Rockford

Common Questions & Myths

How do I know what God is calling me to do?

You must pray every single day, asking God to reveal his plan for you. Do not ask yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” This is the wrong question! Rather, you should be thinking and asking: “Jesus, what do You want me to do?” And listen for the answer! Listen with your heart, not just your head. The discernment process in the religious life must also include the Church. Each community is the one who will ultimately decide who is and who is not called to be a sister or nun.

What if my college loans get in the way?

Financial loans, whether from college or something else, are very common these days.  Do you believe the Lord can still call you even if you have loans to pay back?  Because it is true!  A call is a call, and the Lord asks you to be faithful and walk with him step-by-step.  Religious communities have many different guidelines and advice if you find yourself in this situation, not to mention there are organizations out there that can help too, like the Labouré Society.

Can I be happy in life if I don't follow God's plan for me?

If you do not follow the vocation for which God made you, you can attain a certain degree of happiness in this world and still attain salvation (go to heaven). However, you can never be as happy as you might have been, had you followed your proper vocation. This is why it is so important that you discern correctly. The discernment of your vocation is the most important decision you will make in your entire life! Of course, there are trials and tribulations in every vocation.

If I decide to 'give religious life a try' am I committed for life?

Certainly not! The convent or monastery are where real discernment, trying to hear God’s voice revealing our vocation, continues. Sometimes, the only way to really know if you have a vocation to religious life is to actually enter the convent or monastery. During that time of formation, God’s will for you becomes clearer. The goal of the convent or monastery is to help you discern God’s will. A community rejoices when a women discerns that she is not called to the religious life and leaves to serve the Church in another vocation. Those precious years spent in formation are a benefit to you spiritually even if you discover that you are not called to be a  consecrated religious. That time will definitely help you hear God’ voice and find your vocation.

My friends and family won't understand...

This can be a big question for women discerning the religious life — how will my loved ones react? Will they be confused or angry? Will they be happy for me? Breaking the news that you are considering entering the convent or monastery can be really hard at first, but the most important thing to remember is always be yourself. Your friends and family will eventually realize they only want you to be happy. By following God’s will for your life, you will begin to live out a deeper joy that goes beyond mere superficial happiness, and everyone around you will begin to notice this about you!

Resources and More

Book and Podcast Recommendations

Discerning Religious Life by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR

Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Makingby Fr. Timothy M. OMV Gallagher

Discernment Basicsby The Poco a Poco Podcast

“Called: Discover Your Vocation”Formed’s YDiscpile

(A free subscription could be available through your parish or school – contact their office to find out!)

My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord

Discernment Groups and Direction

You are not alone in the discernment of your vocation!  One of the best things you can do is join others that feel Jesus calling them in a similar way.  The Daughters of St. Paul, a community of missionary sisters, hosts weekly Discernment 101 groups as a place where you can join others also listening for the voice of the Lord in your hearts and desiring to respond.  Another group called The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) has up-to-date discernment retreats and events with various communities.


Finally, we also invite you to contact our vocation director, Fr. Jack Reichardt, and he would be happy to meet with you and provide any direction.