There are over 300 different male & female religious communities in the United States alone. Each of these communities has their own rules and structures that govern their way of life, and therefore have an impact on the future engagement with you and your child. Please understand that it is impossible, in a general question format, to answer specifics to your individual situation in this FAQ. The attempt here is to address some of the initial questions that pertain to ALL parents with a child of religious vocation.
How do I respond when everyone says ``You must be so proud``? or ``You must be so happy``?
Especially during the early days this is very difficult. You often don’t expect the question and often are not prepared to answer it. It will also come at a time when you have just gotten to a good place mentally only to have it upend your emotions.
Does the hurt and sorrow ever go away?
Is it OK to feel hurt, sadness and loss when my child is doing something so wonderful?
Will my child ever get to come home for visits?
As long as your child has NOT entered a cloistered community they should get to come to your home for visits. The frequency and duration of a home visit is specific to the community that your child has joined. There may also be restrictions on what they can and can not do while home.
Is my child's community taking the place of our family?
No, the community does not take the place of one’s family although at times it may seem that way. The communities love our families and embrace the opportunity to become an extension of our families. We have found that, in fact, the sisters have become like family to us.
Why are there restrictions placed on communication and visits?
This is one of the most difficult elements to understand and come to terms with. In short, to dedicate one’s life completely to the love & service of God separation is not only required but essential.
How often will I get to see my child once they enter the convent or monastery?
This varies by religious community.
How often will I get to speak/communicate with my child once they enter religious life?
Frequency and method of communication differ by community. In most cases you will experience a measurable difference in both frequency & type of communication, than before their entry.
Will my child get to come home for holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas?
In many cases they will not be home for major holidays spending these times with their communities.
What are some of the blessings of having your child enter religious life?
Many come to mind:
- the opportunity to witness your child become who God fully intended them to be
- the beauty & joy of watching your child surrender to God
- being formed in faith by your child
- receiving the love & prayers of your child’s community