Late Vocations

Q. Are their religious orders of men who accept late-in-life vocations, say, after somebody has retired from a job in the secular world in their mid-60s?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:  

For most Catholics born before 1960, a religious or priestly vocation was a choice to be embraced early in life, and photographs of religious communities and seminaries showed almost no one over the age of 30. The last four decades have seen immense changes in every sphere of our lives. Religion is no exception, and individuals are frequently turning to a religious or clerical vocation as a “second career.”

While the life-experience these individuals bring to the vowed or clerical life is quite valuable, an influx of older vocations can pose a number of challenges for religious leaders, as older candidates are frequently less docile and, in some cases, less healthy than their predecessors. The former can be addressed by prayer, determination and effective spiritual direction, but the latter is a far greater problem.

However, this has not prevented some dioceses and religious communities from reaching out to older vocations. Online resources are not particularly plentiful, but one, in particular, may prove quite helpful. An Internet search on “Resources for Older Vocations” pulls up some sites that list communities of men and women and the upper-age limit for candidates. Fifty years is the upper-age limit for many of the communities, but a number indicate they have “no stated age limit.”