Don't Let Student Debt Get in the Way of Your Vocation

Posted: 6/6/2014

Pat McEntee, associate vocation directorAmong the many obstacles that can get in the way of a person's vocation, money doesn't seem like it should be very high on the list. Reality says otherwise. In order to profess an oath to a life of simplicity and poverty, the individual must have all his or her previous debts settled before fully entering into that lifestyle.

Help is available for reducing debt prior to or even during formation. The Labouré Society and the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations both have plans available to help young persons with education debt who are pursuing religious vocations. Unfortunately, the aid does not include other kinds of debt, such as home or auto loans, nor does it cover credit-card debt or other personal loans and debts.

The Labouré Society is a program that requires the discerner to allot a specific amount of time to be an "aspirant." During this time, he or she contributes to ethical fundraising for the society. The length of time is dependent on the amount of debt owed (roughly six months for every $20,000-40,000 owed). The fundraising is not for the individual, but rather for the society. Once the aspirant completes the required time, this individual is free to enter formation with the diocese or religious order in which he or she has already been accepted pending reduction of debt.

The Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations offers grants to accepted applicants. Payments on education loans are made monthly as long as the individual is in formation. Once the student makes Final Oath, payments are accelerated until these debts are paid off. If a person leaves the society for any reason, the payments stop and responsibility for paying off loans returns to the individual.

If you are interested in more information about these two nonprofit organizations, please contact us or seek out their Web sites.

Another recent phenomenon is online personal fundraising pages. This approach allows a person to ask for financial support by presenting his or her own cause on one of these sites. Some sites charge fees, while others appear to be free. The individual should research these sites well before deciding which, if any, would be the best fit.

No matter what path you choose to try to reduce your student debt, the important thing is taking some tangible action. If you choose an outside source, please screen and evaluate it carefully to make sure it works for you and does not end up putting you further in debt. Some societies such as Glenmary have very limited resources. Our situation does not allow us to absorb much, if any, student debt from men who wish to follow God's call to become a home missioner. However, it is important for discerners to realize that there are many people who wish to help remove this particular obstacle standing in the way of a true vocation.

If student debt is the reason you haven't made the next step in discernment, let the preceding information give you hope that it need not be the reason you don't pursue God's call. Contact us today and we can help you to find the best way to reduce your debt so you can be free to hear God's voice.