Your college roommate is unpacking his bags from a retreat at the seminary. Or maybe your friend can’t stop talking about how great of a time she had at a come-and-see visit to a local convent.
The signs are all pointing to them packing their bags and discerning themselves a religious vocation.
There are plenty of resources out there for how to discern your own vocation. But there’s not many people sharing advice on how to respond when your friend makes the religious vocation announcement.
Here are the 11 stages of processing when your friend makes the announcement that they’re headed off to discern their religious vocation:
1. Hearing about their discernment through the Catholic grapevine
“Did you hear? Teresa is thinking about discerning with the sisters.” “So, I heard that James had a great time at with the brothers last weekend.”
2. Acting surprised when your friend brings discernment up in conversation
“Oh, Jesus is calling you to pursue a religious vocation? Awesome. Oh, I totally did not see that coming. No, the entire youth group did not tell me. Nope, the daily Mass crowd has not mentioned it to me at all. What are you talking about?”
3. Wanting to be happy for them, but also being a little worried because your friendship will look different
They’re discerning their vocation! That’s cool! But that’s going to change some things in your friendship, and you’re not quite sure how you’re going to process that . . .yet.
4. Realizing that you won’t be able to just send a quick text
Even though Catholic sisters and priests are all over Twitter, the first stages of discernment often mean giving up social media or smart phones all together. And while you can appreciate this, it’s still tough to think about how different your communication will look like with your friend. Time to break out that old fashioned snail mail. Religious pen-pals, here you come.
5. Wondering what your friend’s life will look like as a religious sister, brother, or priest
What will life in seminary look like? Do the formation directors play pranks on the novices? What will dinner with the brothers be like? You don’t know – and they don’t either, yet. That is what Catholic Twitter is for, after all.
6. The day after you stay up late at night and talking about their vocation story
You wanted them to start at the very beginning of their vocation story, but now it’s Monday morning at work and you’re needing all the coffee.
7. When you start planning all you’ll do together before they enter formation
The countdown is on to their first day of formation and you’re going to do all the things before that day. Road trips, your last dinner together, and watching your favorite movies are all on the books in the next few months ahead.
8. When you think of all the things your friend will have to give away before entering religious life
That one shirt that you really like of his? Totally calling dibs. Pretty soon he’ll be in blacks soon and won’t need it anyway. Her shoe collection has your name written all over it. Nuns don’t wear heels, right?
9. Hugging them goodbye for the last time before they leave for formation
You know you’ll see them again in the Eucharist but sometimes it’s just not the same as an in-person hug.
10. When you think you won’t see them for a long time but God’s abundance brings you together in unexpected ways
You said your last goodbyes. Tears were shed. Hugs were given. Then, out of the blue, you see them at a Catholic event. Turns out there’s going to be two or three rounds of goodbyes, folks.
11. Realizing that your friend is answering the Lord’s call for their life
Yep, life is going to look different. But despite the change, you’re excited to witness your friend’s generous “yes” to God’s plan for their vocation.