Vocations Corner: Beginning the Discernment Process for Religious LIfe

by Claire Vidrine

In addition to being a freshman at Louisiana Tech, I am one of many women going through the discernment process for religious life in our diocese. This calling is not the “easy path.” Hearing the voice of God is hard. There also seems to be a lack of information available for women who want to become religious, and there is the stigma of societal perception – this isn’t a normal profession for most people.

I know for me, the thought of religious life appears like a ball of clay. As I knead the clay in my hands, I am discovering minute details, ones which otherwise might not have become apparent if I had not taken up the clay. As of now, I do not fully accept the task being a nun, but I entertain the thought.  It is in my kneading of the idea that I keep my perseverance and maintain faith in His plan, for He will give me aid in all that is meant to be.

God’s voice is a difficult one to hear, let alone interpret. It is difficult to know what roads to take in order to obtain the longed for destination. This took time. I realized that in order to hear His voice I had to first spend as much time with Him as possible. I had to develop and mature how I prayed. I did this through many resources, but the most beneficial for me has been Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There I am able to have an open dialogue with Christ. Once I accepted that He will only lead me to where He wants me to be, then what is there to fear?
The next step in this process was to find the most information I could about religious life. The only credible knowledge I had came in small bits from my PSR classes, annual Vocation Awareness Sundays and the wonderful example of Sr. Edith Schnell, OP at St. Paschal Parish.  So I turned to my trusty friend, Google. When I did a generalized search though, I became more confused than when I started. I then decided to look into the information my church already had in the back of the gathering space concerning vocations. To my dismay, the only good substantive material was concerning priesthood, so once again I was in a bit of a bind.

Fr. Matthew Long, our diocesan Vocations Director, was at Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish where I grew up, so I knew him well. I implored his aid in this process. He gave me some assistance and suggested a few convents I might like to look into, but women’s religious vocations is not an area of immense knowledge for him. So, I was again left with more questions, and few leads.

In prayer I was given the idea to turn to reading about the women saints. Now I know that the year 1607, which St. Jane Frances de Chantal lived in is much different than the present, but the most important aspects are all present: their call to religious life, their unwavering faith to God and all the good they were able to do for God’s kingdom.

If you are like me and discerning your vocation, I would suggest first that you pray. Then try talking to a religious or priest in your local parish. They sincerely want to help you find your calling and follow God’s path for you. Also, check websites of various religious orders to learn about their upcoming retreats for women and get in touch with their Vocations Directors. Do not feel overwhelmed. Pray for God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit, and trust in His plan for your life.

4 Responses to Vocations Corner: Beginning the Discernment Process for Religious LIfe

  1. Claire,

    I loved your article found in The Catholic Connection today! As a parent and a religious leader in our church I’m so very proud that you have reached out to so many young women in North Louisiana. Thank you for being the loving and caring young lady that you have become.

    Jacque L. Vidrine

  2. Eve Gilcrease says:

    Heather,

    What a wonderful article. You are such an inspiration to so many young women out there. I am so very proud of you! Please know that Eddie and I are always here for you.

    Love,
    Eve

  3. Jo Kaufman says:

    I’m so proud of you! This is an amazing article. I’ll be in prayer as you discern the next road that this journey takes you. May the Holy Spirit be your guide.

  4. Rickie Giroir says:

    I have a client who has two daughters studying to be nuns. Perhaps they could give you a view from their perspective. If you are interested, tell your mother to call me and I will give Heather the contact info.

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