1. What is the difference between a nun and a sister? What is the difference between a friar, a brother and a monk?
Check out our glossary for explanations of these terms.
2. Are there any requirements for entering religious life?
As a general rule, communities require you to have basic mental and physical health and to be free from debts. Converts are usually required to have been practicing the faith for some time before they may be considered (generally 2 years). Other requirements vary by community, but these are some examples:
- Dominican provinces for men often require an undergraduate degree
- Some communities will prefer that candidates have experience of work or further education
- There may be age limits (see question 3)
3. How old do I have to be to become a religious? Am I too young/old?
Canonically speaking, you must be 17 to enter the novitiate (Can. 643). Most communities require you to have completed compulsory schooling, which generally means you have to be 18 to enter.
To take vows, by Canon Law, you also have to be over 21.
Many communities have an upper age limit, for various reasons. However, don't despair because there are communities without upper age limits or with higher age limits than is usual. This website has a list of communities that accept 'older' vocations, both active and contemplative. NB: This website only lists communities that wear a habit, by decision of the website owner.
4. I think I'm called to religious life, but how do I find a community? I don't know where to start / I'm overwhelmed by all the options.
When someone feels called to religious life, one of three things tends to happen: they were inspired to discern by a specific community they feel called to, they feel called but don't know any religious or how to go about finding them, or they've found too many and don't know how to proceed from there. But have no fear.
Discerning Your Spirituality
Finding an Active Community
Finding a Contemplative Community