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Q & A with Father Anthony

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Is it possible to enter a religious order even though I still have debts to pay?

Albert asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I feel called to be a religious. The only thing holding me back is bills I must pay off. Is it possible to still enter? Have any others discerning vocations had to wait because of bills? I leave it all in God's hands. It just seems to take so long to pay them off.


Dear Albert,

I have met quite a few young people who are in the same position as you now. Their most common mistake is to hold off making a decision on the vocation until after they have paid up their bills.

You need to make a firm decision in favor of your vocation, and then go all out to pay off your debts even if you are not sure exactly regarding the place you want to join, diocese or religious order, or which order.

If you make a firm decision for your vocation your perception of what is necessary will most probably change, and therefore your expenses too, --things that seem necessary now may turn out not to be, and you will be able to make decisions that allow you to save more and faster. You probably will not need to spend so much on extras: if you are renting an apartment you may be able to move back home, you might have things you can sell off, it won't matter taking on a second or third job because you won't have the same need to socialize, etc...

The key thing to do is say to God and to yourself: yes, this is it, it's you and nobody or nothing else in my life. Then you can set deadlines. But if you go passive and put the vocation off for some vague day in the future when you are out of debt you will in all likelihood waste precious years. That’s just the way we humans are.

If you don't know exactly where God is calling you, use all the time you can finding out. Once you discover where it is, you can ask them what about your still pending debts. Some orders are willing to work something out…, if your call is to the diocesan priesthood you know you will receive a modest salary in the future that will help you pay back loans, etc…
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