I was just like you. Before you scroll past this, before you denounce me as a Protestant heretic who knows nothing about the Catholic Church, please listen for a few seconds.
For fifteen years of my life, I was sure I was going to be a religious sister. Of course there were a few years of doubt, but at 14 I was dead certain. I emailed religious communities, even visited a few. I fully intended to enter a religious community after I finished high school. It consumed every part of myself.
I had ideas about religious life. Habited nuns were the only “real” religious sisters. The others were of lesser value. Protestants were “heretics,” I accepted the “intrinsically disordered” teaching on “homosexual persons,” life issues were the main issues, etc. Religious communities had to talk about them and if they didn’t, they had no value to the Church. I was depressed because of the rigid rules I placed upon myself, and because I thought I was damned to the eternal fires of hell.
Then I had a revelation. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t worked for the Church understands what really goes on in one. There I was at 17, a pastoral assistant Suddenly I was faced with my own humanity. I realized that the world was a lot more complicated that the black and white rules I had drawn at 12 for myself. LIfe was a lot more complicated. People had real problems, they had real struggles. The catechism didn’t solve them and I could not just spout theology at them, they needed real pastoral care and love and understanding.
So I no longer had the conservative view of Catholicism that I had before; I grew to respect and love and cherish the LCWR congregations. My parents had me go to university—to broaden my view so that when I did enter the convent eventually, I could more effectively minister to those I was called to serve. I was going to work with those who felt they were unloveable, because I had once felt that way.
As some of you know, I got sick and was no longer able to enter religious life. I later left the Church because of personal reasons and joined the Episcopal Church, but I still work with a LCWR congregation.
I want you all to live your lives. Don’t spend your lives waiting to enter the seminary or the convent. Don’t spend them in perpetual holy hours or in Church all the time. Go out and find God in the world and serve Him in others. Love him in others by finding him in the world. Don’t spend your time calling others “heretics” on the internet or in real life. I’ve been there—instead spend your time loving God in the Other by serving your Neighbor.
If you are truly called to the religious life or the priesthood, your time to be a nun or religious or priest will come. But that time is not now. Go to college, go to high school, live the life you are called to live now, not waiting for the possible future.