Sunday, August 02, 2015

Vocation shortage?

One of the biggest problems in the Church right now is not lack of vocations, it's lack of support for them. And student loan debt is near the top of that list. Add to that the time pressure; nearly all religious orders for women of any reputation at all have an upper age limit. If you don't pay off your student loans before you hit the ceiling, you can forget it.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is perhaps one of the most painful examples; they're possibly the only viable Benedictine monastery for women in the English speaking world that has retained the traditional Divine Office in Latin and the traditional Mass, but their age limit is one of the lowest: 28. If you have loans in the tens or hundreds of thousands for your (unemployable) arts degree in academic navel-gazing, you're pretty much out of luck.

A very large number of people are not in orders right now because of this.

Go help this lady, if you can find a few extra bucks. But do remember, if you can't pay your kids' way through university, send them to a community college to learn an employable trade. Teach them to love learning, get them addicted to books by all means, turn them into civilized and educated people, but for heaven sake, unless they're natural engineering or math prodigies, help them find a way through life that doesn't start with a crippling lifelong insoluble debt.

My name is Jessica Kidwell. I’m 22 years old, a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary and hail from Fairfax, Virginia. I have heard God’s call, and I would like to serve Him by joining the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Gower, Missouri. I have been admitted to enter there this fall, but that offer is contingent upon me paying all my educational debt first. All told, my debt totaled about $60,000 when I left school. I’m writing you to ask for your prayers and your financial assistance. Even though I have a full time job, a part time job, and take on odd jobs whenever I can get them, it could be years before I have paid off these loans by myself. My goal with this campaign is to raise $30,000.

I’m asking for your assistance to pay off my student loan debt. Please consider my situation, and decide if this something you feel you can support. It’s difficult for me to ask others for help, but I realize that I have gotten to this point in my life with the love, support, and kindness of many people.

I’ve wanted to be a nun since I was in the second grade. In school, we were assigned a book report on Saints, and were then to dress up as the Saint and give a presentation about their life. My Saint was St. Clare of Assisi. The more I learned about this holy woman and religious foundress, the more I grew to admire not only her as a person and great Saint, but the concept of contemplative religious life itself. This wasn’t a detached admiration, either; I was utterly taken with the idea and wanted to live it myself. Throughout the rest of my childhood, this desire grew, taking something of a dip in high school, with the realization that not many people become religious nowadays. I earned my bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary, a state school, and was on track to graduate with a minimal debt load, but for various reasons, I had to cover a far higher percentage of tuition in loans my last two years. I took a semester of graduate classes, with God pulling at my heart with greater and greater intensity as time went on, before I finally surrendered. I left my Master’s program, threw myself into work, and I am dead set on entering the monastery this fall.

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