US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Get thee to a discernment house: A new opportunity for women considering religious life

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Nuns have been all over the news the last few months, starting with the clash between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Earlier this summer, many nuns hopped on a bus as part of a campaign to bring awareness to how federal budget cuts would affect the poor. Nuns are grabbing headlines everywhere from the New York Times to the Colbert Report. More recently there’s been some debate about the numbers of women entering orders and whether they are favoring more traditional and conservative orders.

Today, Religion News Service reports about a new offering from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to women who are discerning vocations: the archdiocese will be converting an empty rectory into a group house—the Magnificat House of Discernment—where women can live together while deciding if they will pursue life as a nun. The women will benefit from learning the values and challenges of living in community, and will be able to learn more about prayer, participate in retreats, and hear presentations from various orders of nuns.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond notes that this appears to be a unique diocese-sponsored situation, though some individual orders offer their own discernment houses. He also points out that while the archdiocese had facilities for men who were considering the priesthood, there was no equivalent for women. This move only seems fair, as discerning a call to religious life requires as much thought and prayer as the call to the priesthood.

The Magnificat House of Discernment seems like a great way to help women through the discernment process. Does your diocese feature anything like this? Do you think it would benefit from this service?