QUAERITUR: Gifts for a woman’s solemn profession

From a reader:

We have been invited to attend the solemn profession of final vows of a young woman becoming a cloistered nun. Are there any gift giving customs involved with one’s attendance at such a ceremony?

Hmmm… no idea.


Let’s help this person out.

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  1. mpolo says:

    It would depend a lot on how this woman’s order understands the vow of poverty. Perhaps the safest gift would be to have Masses said for her perserverence, or make a donation to the order in her name.

    If she is allowed certain personal items under the vow of poverty, of course, a more personal gift would be possible.

  2. Dominic Maria says:

    Well due to the vow of poverty a cloistered Nun would likely not want a personal gift. Maybe something for their communal use, maybe something for the Chapel? Or one of those charity gift cards which sends your money to a good cause. Of course a pledge of prayers, especially Masses and Rosary bouquets, is always welcome.

  3. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I wonder if to ask the Prioress of the convent whether the house needs anything for all the community to use and enjoy? Could be a high-ticket item such as a new freezer to replace the old one that’s constantly breaking down? Or a small item such as a new teapot? Could be cash to put toward a new transmission for the community automobile that’s constantly breaking down? Or a pair of jumper cables for said car? A framed photograph for the wall of the recreation room ($), a statue for the hallway ($$$$), a gift certificate with the florist that the community uses for fresh flowers for the altar for a week ($), for a month ($$), for a year ($$$$$$) . . .

    The idea would be a gift to the entire community from your family on the occasion of Sister’s entrance, rather than a gift to Sr. herself.

  4. The Masses would be best. Any donations to her personally would have to be handed up or at least acknowledged – it does depend on their practice of poverty. Since this lady is living an enclosed life and this is her solemn profession her order is probably strict enough and she has all that she needs. I would suggest that you ask her! She might have some books she would like to read for instance. If an artist there may be supplies she needs. In this case a donation to the community on her behalf would be a good idea.

    One thing not to give is religious artefacts, pictures, statues etc. Religious houses are usually full of them often more than can be displayed and invariably of little artistic merit (kitsch in other words). I remember receiving two copies of the same stature for my solemn profession neither of which I wanted nor intended to carry from community to community for the rest of my life. If you are thinking of giving a gift ask the sister or her community what they need.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    One could make a donation to the convent or monastery in the woman’s name. Most nuns have strict rules about what they can have and not have. Another idea would be to have Masses said for her and her order.

  6. tioedong says:

    the best gift you can give her is to promise that you’ll say a decade of the rosary for her every day.

  7. acroat says:

    On the invitations I have received it clearly stated no personal gifts but a donation in her name was welcome. Of course the best gift is a Mass.

  8. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Spiritual bouquets, and a small, unrestricted donation (by check, maybe, if you want any deduction) to the house.

  9. Rich says:

    Prayers, prayers, and prayers.

  10. MominTexas says:

    A Mass offered for her, of course.

    Also, we usually call the superior, and as if there is anything the community needs. Usually our friend(s) either don’t notice, or don’t care, where if there is a real need or want for something, whomever in charge will usually share this :)

  11. acardnal says:

    Offer spiritual bouquets of rosaries and Masses.

  12. Dominicanes says:

    Spiritual gifts are the best but if one wants to do something tangible, it should be for the community. Asking the prioress is always a good idea but also it would be good to let her know what the ballpark is for how many you can spend. Many communities are hesitant to suggest something and find that someone had to make a real sacrifice to provide! The above suggestions are really great.
    A donation, gift cards, a gift for flowers for the altar, for the garden, for books and yes, even pizza are always gratefully received. Fresh fruit and veggies are always most welcome.

  13. HeatherPA says:

    You could enroll her in Perpetual Masses for life- Mary, Queen of all Hearts- the Confraternity founded by St. Louis de Montfort, run by the Montfort Missionaries has a beautiful lifetime enrollment for people, families, etc…
    This is a gift I give to priests, religious, and those receiving their First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

  14. Bea says:

    I would go for a donation to the convent in her name. They have no means of income except by donations.
    Books for communal use if you would like to make a donation that has the donors name and “in remembrance of …….. on her final vows”
    Or ask the prioress/abbess what they need.

  15. Rob Cartusciello says:

    One thing not to give is religious artifacts, pictures, statues, etc.

    Allow me to reiterate that one. Over the years, my wife and I have received countless religious items to the point where it has become a serious question as to which direction to genuflect when entering the house. (I jest).

    I recall a vignette from a Vatican II perituswho received two catacomb lamps, which he attempted to give to a small house of religious women in Rome. The sisters, in turn, gave him a box of what they called “surplus vestments” for the missions. Upon returning to his residence, the good father opened up a box to discover a large number of hideous vestments, broken rosaries, kitschy statues and the two catacomb lamps.

  16. Dominicanes says:

    Just a wee point. The “young woman” isn’t becoming a cloistered nun. She IS already a cloistered nun who is making Solemn Profession.

  17. filioque says:

    All of the above suggestions are excellent. Remembering my own solemn profession, I still smile at the gift from my brother, labeled “To the girls in the novitiate from the boys in the back room” — a case of wine! (It was a French order.)

  18. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    This is my standard rant that I always post on threads in which the question of using a pseudonym or a nom de plume instead of one’s real name comes up.

    Female users of the internet, especially females living in metropolitan areas, are highly advised by personal security experts never to post their real names on the internet except in those cases in which they must do so for business reasons (i.e., seeking employment, advertising an existing business, advertising a book she has written, etc.)

    I promised my husband faithfully always to use a nom de plume when posting any material that falls outside of these categories. Because I do agree that anyone posting comments on other peoples’ blogs ought to be transparent at least to the site owner, I usually email to the owner introducing myself using my real name, my hometown, and give a brief biographical sketch and some general contact information. That way, the blog owner may always contact me if he or she wishes to.

    Other than that, I maintain a strict policy of remaining as “unGoogleable” under my real name as possible. And to the extent that they are able to, I would highly encourage any female internet user to do the same.

  19. acardnal says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae: How does your self-described “rant” pertain to this blog post??? I am at a loss.

  20. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “How does your self-described “rant” pertain to this blog post??? I am at a loss.”

    Me too. I must be more tired than I thought. My apologies. I will post it again to the correct spot.


  21. acardnal says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae: no worries. :-) I need to apologize, at times, for the things I write – often rashly and without due thought. I thought I missed something in your post because I was “brain tired” and so thought I would ask for an explanation.

  22. digdigby says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae-

    Very good suggestion and as this is a post that would interest many of the ladies, as good a place as any to make it.

  23. SWP says:

    When my brother joined the novitiate in the Society of Jesus, we were asked to give gifts that could be shared by all the novices. When he made his first profession of vows, we limited our gifts to things spiritual, like icons and prayer cards. I would imagine in the cloister they are more strict in limiting personal possessions so that even a rosary given as a gift would be prohibited. They very much rely on donors to maintain any of their infrastructure or physical plant. You could become a generous benefactor of the cloister. My parents prepared meals for all the novices, particularly on Thanksgiving when not all of the novices could get home to their families. Maybe in the cloister you could do something to that effect, like help in the garden? There’s usually some provision to donate money in lieu of gifts to a charitable cause. I think the Jesuit novices asked that donations be given to the prison ministry in which they had all participated or one of the schools.

  24. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    @ HeatherPA

    Do you have more information regarding the perpetual Masses for life? I looked online but was unable to find it.


  25. faithandfamily says:

    Having been blessed with a close relationship with a cloistered order of nuns, I can strongly concur with all suggestions of a donation to benefit the entire community: money is always welcome, as these orders, being cloistered, are self-sufficient and rely upon benefactors to pay their bills, as the money they make selling items is limited, as many of them do not have internet sites. A personal gift that the Sisters always enjoy is food, wine, or alcohol (The good Sisters use various liquors to flavor their homemade ice cream!). Our nuns also love high quality chocolate.
    In the end, whatever you decide to give them will be welcomed and appreciated.

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