What Does the Process of Becoming a Catholic Nun Involve?


Quick Answer

Though variations exist between communities, many orders of Catholic nuns have new members go through a period of postulancy, novitiate, first vows and then perpetual vows. Those wishing to become Catholic nuns should also be female, single, have no dependent children, be within the order's age range and debt free.

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Full Answer

Before applying to religious orders, many women go through a period of discernment where they try to determine whether or not God wants them to become nuns and, if so, to which communities they should apply. Some talk with spiritual directors.

After initial acceptance into a community of nuns, a woman goes through a short period of postulancy, where she begins to experience the way of life of the order. It is a period of discernment, as the woman is not yet bound to the community. She may also have basic classes in spirituality and doctrine.

The next stage is the novitiate. Orders that wear habits, which are distinctive items of clothing marking their way of life, often give a version of their habit to the new novice. The novice becomes more a part of the life of the community.

First vows, or junior vows for some communities, give the nun the chance to live the community's life of poverty, chastity and obedience, without having yet vowed her entire life to the community. After this period, if her order is ready to accept her, and if she agrees, she can then make perpetual vows, giving her life to the community.

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