2. See the “Older vocations” article by Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M. in the VISION Vocation Network’s Q&A: On Vocations section.
3. Some Benedictine women’s communities who may consider older candidates. (Note: Policies and contact information may change and VISION cannot guarantee these communities now consider older candidates. Check with the communities individually):
4. Other options for consecrated life which may not involve age restrictions include associate programs,
secular third orders, secular institutes, and other new communities of consecrated life. Read the current VISION listings for communities, institutes, and associations in the directory section.
Secular third orders are associations of laypeople who follow the inspiration and guidance of a religious order while living in the world. Third order members are usually received into the religious community in a particular ceremony and pledge themselves to certain prayers and religious practices.
Some religious orders now include associate membership, which allows single and married laypeople to maintain a close bond with the community. The requirements and commitments between communities and their “associates” or “co-members” vary with each religious order. Generally, associate members feel drawn to the charism—the spirit and mission—of the community and pledge to carry out prayer and works of service according to the community’s charism and their own abilities and integrate that spirit into their way of life. They usually take part in some communal activities of the community.
Secular institutes are a form of consecrated life in which members live a life of celibate chastity, poverty, and obedience through the witness of their Christian lives and their apostolic activity wherever they are employed. Generally members do not live in community as do members of religious institutes, though they may. Secular institutes are for laywomen, laymen, and diocesan priests. Periodically, members of respective institutes come together for retreats, meetings, and renewal. For more information, see the website of the United States Conference of Secular Institutes.
For discerners with disabilities
Some places to turn for help:
1. Benedictine Sisters of Jesus Crucified Founded in France in 1930, the Roman Catholic Order of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified is one of the few religious orders that widely accepts women with physical disabilities. The order maintains a U.S. presence in the Connecticut Monastery of the Glorious Cross, a fully accessible facility that is currently home to 21 sisters. Sister Mary Zita, O.S.B., vocation director, says the community is able to accept women who are blind, have heart conditions, diabetes, orthopedic conditions, post-polio conditions, and spinal bifida. They do not accept women with mental or neurological disorders.
"Our proper charism within the Benedictine family,” the community says, “is to embody a joyful participation in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Ours is a daily ‘Passover’ lived out in the contemplation of Jesus Crucified and in the radiance of his resurrection. We embody the Paschal Mystery in a monastic life that brings together sisters in good health and sisters in fragile health or with a physical handicap."
2. Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus Crucified The Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus Crucified is a secular institute for women and men founded in 1987 in Albany, New York and was approved as an association of the faithful in 1992. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity, especially for persons with disabilities, to live a life of total consecration and the pursuit of holiness in the apostolate of service to the church and to those who suffer in any way.
For more information contact:
Louise D. Principe, F.M.J.C. 400 Central Ave., Apt. 3D Albany, NY 12206-2207 518-438-5887
3. Victorious Missionaries The Victorious Missionaries is an organization dedicated to providing a spiritual network for persons with a disability or chronic illness. The organization, the largest of its kind in the U.S., began in 1964 and is headquartered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. It's purpose is to encourage those with disabilities to reach out to others with disabilities, sharing their gifts and spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
The group says: "We are a visionary people called to a way of life that sees beyond the suffering and struggles of life to the victory that is born through the spirit of love. People with disabilities have gifts, too—gifts that can and should be shared with the universal church and the world!"
Please note: this organization is not a religious community but rather a resource to those with disabilities.
For more information contact:
Victorious Missionaries 442 S. DeMazenod Dr. Belleville, IL 62221-1023 Brother Tom Ruhmann, O.M.I. 618-394-6282 Billie Munie 618-394-6281 http://www.vmusa.org/