Aspirants to Religious Life, Priesthood, DEBT, and You – ACTION ITEM!

action-item-buttonI occasionally get email from people who want to enter convents, monasteries, seminaries, but they are held up on account of debt, mostly from education loans.  They usually have some crowd-funding page by which they are trying to raise money to pay off their debt and get on with the testing of their vocation.

Please use this entry to post about this aspirants to the priesthood or religious life.


Even small amounts given by a large number of people can add up quickly.

The sort of person who would write to me asking for help for himself or herself, or on behalf of another, are more than likely the sort of people we really need entering convents and seminaries.

And also please consider subscribing to making a monthly donation to give me a hand and to keep this blog going.  If you are regularly checking this blog and you have benefited from it, please pitch in.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. CradleRevert says:

    There are also organizations such as the Labouré Society which exists for the very purpose of helping aspiring priests and other religious to resolve their debt in order to enter seminaries or convents.

  2. rtrainque says:

    Excellent idea for a blog post, Father! Great timing too seeing as how I have a friend looking to enter the Sisters of Life and who has recently set up a page on one of the crowdfunding sites:

  3. justanothermom says:

    I know this young lady who hopes to join the Sisters of Life:

  4. benedetta says:

    And I know another lovely young lady also crowd-funding school debt to be ready to enter the wonderful Sisters of Life! Hip, hip, hooray for the lovely and gentle and joyful Sisters of Life.

  5. ericdanielmoore says:

    A law school classmate of mine, Nick Michels, is raising money to pay off student debt in order to join the Jesuits (don’t worry, he will be one of the good ones – he knows how to spot a heresy). I am sure he would appreciate any help!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Some trad orders do not ask for a college degree. Ergo, if parents help their children discern their vocations early, even when adolescents, a college loan can be avoided. The Benedictines near Kansas City take girls as early as 16, which is very trad. Here is their address:
    Novice Mistress
    Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus
    P.O. Box 303
    Gower, MO 64454

    Carmel in Colorado take girls at 18. If parents pray and encourage vocations, there is no reason to incur debt.

    In addition, one may contact the Carmelites in Nebraska. There are many opportunities for entrance without incurring debt.

    Rev. Mother Teresa of Jesus, O.C.D., Prioress
    Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
    9300 W. Agnew Road,
    Valparaiso, NE 68065,
    United States of America.

  7. James in Perth says:

    I strongly recommend that aspirants apply to the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations “whose charitable purpose is to support priestly and religious vocations by eliminating one particular kind of financial obstacle: student debt.” A worthy organization which was founded by two friends of mine. The link to Mater Ecclesiae is

  8. Br. Augustine of Nubia says:

    Father Z,

    I have a car that I would like to donate to help the church. Do you know of a Catholic charity that supports vocations or helps pay debts for those with a vocation? I offered the car up to my local diocese and they recommended that I sell it or give it to a random group. (I think the group they recommended is not Catholic…but I am not sure.) If this is off topic you can just e-mail me.

    Thank You,

    Br. Augustine of Nubia

  9. Hey everyone! My name is Carter Montag and in the past two and a half months I have been generously given over $10k to pay off my student loans so I can join the Norbertine Fathers of St Michael’s Abbey this August. Deo gratias! In order to enter I need to raise another $22k before August 1st. Please prayerfully consider helping me out so I can persue my vocation at the abbey!

    Carter Montag

  10. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    James in Perth,

    I second your support of the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. I know several who have been helped by it. I support it financially when I can. Currently, I’m encouraging my council of the Knights of Columbus to support it.

    [By the way: is it Perth, Scotland, or Perth, Australia? My mom, years ago, had to answer a geography question about the conditions in Perth — and she answered for the wrong one saying, among other things, that it was at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Her geography mistress replied “Very wet”.]

  11. Debt really is a large impediment for young people who desire to enter religious life. I had to beg a significant sum before I was permitted to enter into my province. I hope that those who are able will assist these young souls seek after a religious vocation more easily and with freedom. With that in mind, in your charity, a young man was accepted into our Order who has started a Go Fund Me page to help pay down his debts. If you are so inclined, I’d like to offer his cause for your consideration:

  12. APX says:

    The Colorado Carmelites that Supertradmum posted are served by sedevecantist priests and are not actually recognized as Carmelites by the Carmelites.

  13. James in Perth says:

    Dear Chris,
    Formerly of Perth, Western Australia. Your mother’s answer was wrong on both counts (Australia and Scotland)! We lived just a mile or so from the Indian Ocean but didn’t spend much time there.
    I also used to live in Arlington VA where I met Corey and Katherine. Great couple. I need to reconnect.
    I should add to the discussion that contributions to a recognized charity are deductible and usually have oversight and controls that appeals like Go Fund Me do not. But if you know an aspiring priest or sister, then by all means don’t hold back due to tax deductibility!!

  14. cathgrl says:

    Br. Augustine of Nubia, in my area (Detroit) there is a car donation program that helps low income people get vehicles they otherwise couldn’t afford, and also give a significant portion of the proceeds to the charity of your choice, which would include Laboure or Mater Ecclesiae. That’s what I did with my last car (the charity I chose was a local religious order). Perhaps there is a similar program in your area.

  15. Dominicanes says:

    While I agree that many young people are held back by college debt from entering religious life there is also a tendency by some toward a sense of entitlement that others not themselves take responsibility for the debt occurred. The MEFV and Labour foundation helps while still ensuring a sense of responsibility by the candidate. They pay off the debt gradually so that if someone leaves they may resume responsibility. Also, the receiving religious order can be looked upon negatively by people who help someone pay off debt if the person leaves. Also there are tax laws that a candidate could be hit with in accepting 20k even if it is to pay off school debt.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Well, what sort of responsibility do you expect them to take? They took the responsibility to pay back the debt from their salaries later in work-life (and that’s calculated to last the whole work-life or half of it if I’m rightly informed), and there isn’t so much wrong with that in itself, either.

    (Though there is, probably, with making unnecessary luxuries and the cost of them mandatory for every student.)

    Now they are willing to offer their work-life up to God and the Church. What’s irresponsible in that? This changes the situation, and though the Church doesn’t pay a full salary, leastways not in religious orders, she might be expected (via whatever fundraising means) to cover that part that was meant for the paying-back.

    (It wouldn’t even be wrong if they have a certain I-know-I-can’t-legally-claim-but-the-just-thing-really-would-be sort of “entitlement”.)

    However, as I think you implied (dear Dominicanes), justice does require, in my view, that if they drop out and go seek a worldly career, they resume payment of the debt (to the Church if she paid for a full release).

  17. I know this issue can be controversial. However, I look at it two ways. First, if someone is entering a mendicant order there’s no problem starting mendicancy now. Second, if someone doesn’t complete their formation or does not receive favorable votes to receive final vows what’s been lost? We’ve simply shared our resources to help someone, in the end, become free. Who knows how God will reward the generosity of those who help, and who knows how the person will be able to serve the Lord due to the gift. The disposition one ought to have, I think, when donating money for such a need is that the one donating should not expect a return on their gift. But, rather, it is simply that, a gift for the sake of helping someone along the way toward Christian perfection. We should not allow ourselves to be trapped by the vice of American productivity expectations nor the modern transactional economy.

  18. APX says:

    The issue with organizations that help pay off debt for vocations is that they try to help as many people as they can, which means they accept those who have small amounts of debt (that could easily be paid off simply by working for a short period of time) rather than help those who really need the help because the amount is larger than a few thousand dollars and they are several years away from being debt free.

    FWIW: Every Carmelite community I contacted wrote back to me and told me that it is preferable to find benefactors to pay off the debt now rather than delay a vocation 6 years by working to pay it off.

  19. Dominicanes says:

    If someone seriously believes God is calling her to religious life and then continues to attend a college where she is paying 20k a year, takes enrichment trips to Europe, doesn’t make an effort to work or after graduation doesn’t even pay the monthly minium payments,and then asks people to pay off the entire debt so she can enter this year. This does happen. MEFV and Laboure both hell enable a person to enter while still instilling a sense of responsibility for the debt incurred.

  20. Dominicanes says:

    Exactly. Brother. Unfortunately the community who accepted the candidate who then left is sometimes judged as dishonest by persons who helped the candidate which of course is wrong. But it happens.

  21. pro_amorem says:


    I’m not sure if the link you posted to the Carmelite nuns of Colorado Springs are in union with Rome. There are plenty of other traditional Carmelites, on the otherhand, who are in full union with Rome. All young ladies should look at them :) some examples include the Carmelites in Elysburg, PA and Lincoln, NE.

  22. APX says:

    When discerning a religious vocation, one really shouldn’t let Mass preference govern with whom they discern with. One may be called to religious life, but it may be with a community that doesn’t use the Extraordinary Form.

  23. un-ionized says:

    pro amorem, You are probably right, the web site says they have “unswerving fidelity to the Tridentine rite and liturgy.” Not a word anywhere on the web site about the Pope or Rome. There are other indications there that they are not in union with Rome.

  24. APX says:

    With regards to the Colorado Carmelite posted above, they are served by priests from the “Servants of the Holy Family”. The bishop from the diocese issued the following Letter of Declaration declaring the priests are not in communion with the diocese or the Universal Church and urging all those associated with them to return to union with Rome.

    The bishop also mentions the Carmelites in question. The original community was suppressed and another “community” started up another without permission from the bishop or the Discalced Carmelites, which if I understand vows correctly, since those who received their vows didn’t have the authority of the Church to receive them, their vows are private vows and thus they wouldn’t be consecrated religious under solemn vows.

  25. pro_amorem says:


    Thanks for finding that letter! Let us pray for both groups’ conversions.

  26. pro_amorem says:

    and pray that no one is lead astray to join them. Very grave and dangerous for souls.

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