If I become a nun, will I still be able to travel?

Blog Published: March 10, 2015
By Sister Cheryl

I received a question from someone who wants to become a nun someday, but she loves to travel and is afraid that if she enters religious life she will not travel anymore. I want to say, “Tell that to my family!” My sister has said things like, “Wow you’re going away again?” or "How can you stand to be gone so many weekends?”

If you were to enter an apostolic community (recognizing that some religious communities such as cloistered congregations have different customs), you will probably travel. In addition to the travel demands of your particular ministry, you might have to travel for community events such as regional or national meetings and workshops. And the expectation of a week’s retreat annually offers some opportunities to “go off to a place apart,” as Jesus did, for spiritual and personal renewal.

When I was a novice, I remember one summer, on retreat at our motherhouse, thinking sadly, “I’ll never get another vacation in my life!” I have laughed many times since, remembering that. Most apostolic communities encourage their members to have little (modest) vacations for good physical and mental health!

This is not to say that we are not in a lifestyle that calls us to simplicity and a spirit of poverty, but the life of an active woman religious today keeps her serving where she is needed or sent, and being educated for the work she is doing. Sometimes you may have to “go where you do not want to go” to serve those in need … or NOT go where you would dream about going if you had your own resources and a “stash of cash."

After many years as a high school teacher and staying close to my ministries -- with the exception of national Catholic teacher conventions -- I moved into retreat work and spiritual direction. I have been invited to do retreats in many places, and it has kept me traveling a lot.

Far from feeling like I can only be in one place, I have sometimes had the feeling of Jesus, the itinerant preacher, when He said: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) As vowed religious, we see this as a call to be willing to move spiritually and sometimes geographically. It is a call to not become tied to one safe place (nest), but to follow Jesus wherever His call may lead us.

Take a trip around the world if you must before you enter a community, but I don't think you have to worry about travel! Be assured of my prayers as you think about how God is calling you!

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