5 Stereotypes About Religious Life That are Totally Wrong

Perhaps there was a time in your life where a little old lady looked up at you and told you that would make a great nun or priest. Your face might have looked like this:


And if you’re anything like me, you probably had billions of reasons why you shouldn’t be one. It wasn’t until I met more relatable nuns and priests, read more about the saints, and prayed more about it that I realized all the reasons I had weren’t valid. I found that I could only wholeheartedly discern God’s call by letting go of these misconceived ideas.

Here are some of the reservations we all have when discerning our call:

1. “But I like guys or girls way too much”

Well, this is a good sign. We were all created and designed by God for complete union. We all desire to give ourselves to someone, and to be loved thoroughly and exclusively; however, this looks a little different depending on what your vocation is. In religious life, God is the only one you’re in union with. He is the one who is loving you thoroughly and exclusively.

I challenge you to find a sister or priest who didn’t have a special someone in mind as they were discerning. Every nun and priest had to make a difficult sacrifice with dating. But if God is calling you to this vocation, the sacrifice will be completely worth it.

2. “But I’m too outgoing” or “my personality doesn’t fit the religious life”

If I were to become a nun, I know I would constantly trip on my habit, have an urge to sing and dance all around my convent, and send triple-chin Snapchats to all my sisters.

I definitely wouldn’t fit the stereotypical mold of what a nun should be like, but my personality doesn’t decide if I’m called to religious life or not. God wants to use all of us, our quirks, our humor, and our awkwardness. Some of the most lively people I know are priests and nuns (eg. Sr. Helena Burns during hockey season.)

The Church needs our gifts and our personality to bring the truth of God alive. Even Pope Francis, told priests to stop giving boring homilies. You have a unique personality and God is going to use that.

3. “But I can find a husband/wife. I’m attractive”

We have stereotypical image of what a nun or priest ought to look like based on our limited experiences. In movies it looks something like this, an old, bitter, gray-haired, mean woman or man:

It looks like someone who we can’t physically relate to at all, even though God’s call for our lives has nothing to do with how we look on the outside.

Just take a look at former model Olla Oliveros who became a nun or St. Agnes who, even though she had so many men chasing after her, would say, “God is my only spouse.”

When we say someone is too attractive, or as my friends call handsome priests “Father What-A-Waste,” we’re really saying is that the best parts of ourselves that we have to offer is our exterior traits. Even ask any married person, and they would agree thats not to be true in their vocation either.

The way God looks at you is so much more important. His call for you is to the heart and soul, and not our temporary exterior being.

4. “But I’m too smart to become a nun or a priest”

One time when I told someone I was discerning they went on a rant about how I’d be completely throwing away my intelligence and education. Though if we take a look at the special role nuns and priests play in our Church we see how important their intellect is.

They are constantly exercising this gift, whether it be in the sanctuary, the classroom, or one-on-one conversations. God gives us our gifts so we would be able to use them and glorify Him (Romans 12: 4-8). Sometimes God uses our intelligence very specifically and we have a “a call within a call.” God might call us to use our talents to be a nun or priest doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.

The Church needs scholarly people to defend our faith, to answer the tough questions, to teach us, and to minister.

5. “But I’ll miss out on being a mom/dad”

Perhaps you’ve been going your entire life dreaming of the day you’d have your own children. As a nun or priest you don’t have to give up this dream. You’ll have the opportunity to have dozens of spiritual children (and adults).

You’ll be able to look at the them the same way Jesus gazes at them. You’ll be able to teach them wisdom that comes with being in religious life. You’ll be able to be with them during the best and worst parts of their lives.

You’ll show them how immensely God loves them. You’ll have such a platform to lead so many souls to the Kingdom.

God’s perfect plan

God’s call for your life isn’t based on whether you fit the earthly-stereotypes of what a priest or religious sister should be like. God’s call for you is personal. He calls you by name. And if He calls you to the religious life it’s because you, in your strengths and weaknesses, are perfect for the religious vocation. God has the most beautiful plan for you, one that only you can fulfill.

By letting go of these religious life stereotypes, I’m able to be more open to whatever God is calling me to. I’m hoping the same for you, so that He will be able to give you a life beyond your wildest dreams.

I’m praying for you.