Becoming a nun is a big calling and requires serious commitment. It’s not a decision that you make hastily. That’s part of the reason why the process of becoming a nun takes a long time. It could be years before you take your vows.
If you are interested in joining a consecrated life, here’s a general guide on how to become a nun in the catholic church.
What You'll Learn Today
- Can Anyone Become A Nun In The Catholic Church?
- How Do I Prepare For Life As A Nun?
- What Are The Stages of Becoming A Nun?
- What’s The Difference Between A Nun And A Sister?
Can Anyone Become A Nun In The Catholic Church?
Nuns are women who take vows to dedicate their life to solemn religious service. So, obviously, the first requirement is that you be female.
Secondly, you must be a baptized Catholic and part of a church community.
While nuns are required to commit to chastity once they take their vows, you do not have to be a virgin to become a nun.
A woman who was previously married can also apply to become a nun. However, the marriage must be annulled by the church.
Note that a legal divorce or annulment is not recognized in the church. You also have to get a declaration from a church tribunal.
Other requirements will vary based on the order or community of nuns. Some orders stipulate that you cannot have any financial debt, while others say you cannot have children of dependent age.
Most will also have an age requirement. You have to be at least 18 or 21 years old to join their order as a nun.
Many communities will also have a maximum age requirement, usually 40.
How Do I Prepare For Life As A Nun?
Before you even consider which order you want to join, you need to know what you are getting into and whether you are really ready for it.
Take time to pray about your decision, talk to a senior religious leader or mentor for advice, and do your own research into the life of a nun.
As a starter, here’s a video that talks about the life of a nun and some of the rules they are expected to follow.
If you are still sure you want to follow this path, here are some of the ways you can prepare for it.
1. Pray About It
Spend more time in prayer and meditation, asking the Lord for clarity and guidance on your weight decision.
You need to be sure that you have a calling from God and not just a temporary attraction to the life of a nun.
You can get inspired to become a nun by a book, movie or a nun you’ve worked with. But you need to have the calling yourself.
2. Read the Scripture
Reading the Bible can further help you meditate on your decision.
Look up Bible verses on being called by God and stories of people who were called like Samuel, Paul, and the Disciples of Jesus.
The biggest question you need to answer is why you feel called to serve as a nun. What purpose do you want to dedicate your life to?
Answering these questions will not only help you make a decision, it’ll also help later on decide which order to join.
For example, if you just want to contemplate, pray, and meditate, there are communities that do that. If you want to serve the community and the less fortunate, there are specific orders that focus on that.
3. Research the Life of a Nun
Get an idea of what it is like to be a nun, what is required of a nun, and what nuns have to give up.
The easiest place to start is online. There are plenty of resources to check out. Our most favorite one is A Nun’s Life.
The website itself has a handy list of other blogs you can read to learn more about nun life.
Forums like Reddit and Facebook can also give you a peek into the lives of nuns and their experiences.
In addition to online research, go on the ground and interact with nuns.
One of the best places to see nuns going about their lives is a convent. Look for a convent near you that’s open to the public.
Also go to mass. Many convents hold masses that anyone can attend.
Something else you can do is attend religious events held or attended by nuns.
4. Talk to Nuns
Find an opportunity to talk one on one with nuns. Even just talking to one nun can give you more insights into their life and whether it’s the life you want.
Ask for advice, not just about becoming a nun but also which community is best for you.
What Are The Stages of Becoming A Nun?
Once you are sure you’d like to attempt to become a nun, here are stages you’ll go through.
First Stage: Pick An Order/Community and Express Interest
Feel free to contact several communities to get an idea of what they do. It’ll help you find your best fit.
Once you find the right community, contact them and express interest in joining their order.
Second Stage: Training
The specific stages vary depending on the order. But in most communities, there is a period of training you go through to start your integration into the order.
This can take several months or years. You will be partaking in many activities together with the nuns, even though you are not part of the convent yet.
Third Stage: Apply for Candidacy
After the training or exposure period, you can formally apply to join an order if you are still interested in becoming a nun.
If you are accepted, you can join the convent and start living there.
Depending on the community and the specific convent, you may undergo additional months of training and integration.
Fourth Stage: Take the First Vows
After the training period, you take your first or temporary vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
You’ll receive your habit and some convents allow you to pick a new name.
Temporary vows are renewed every year for 5-9 years.
Final Stage: Take the Final Vows
After several years, you take your final or permanent vows.
What’s The Difference Between A Nun And A Sister?
‘Nun’ and ‘Sister’ are usually used interchangeably. But they are different.
Nuns are centered around convents. They live a life of seclusion and contemplation.
Sisters on the other hand live within the world and have active apostolic lives, doing acts of service and mercy in their communities.
There’s also a difference in the kinds of vows they take. Sisters take simple or temporary vows, while nuns take solemn or permanent vows.