Physical Disability & Vocation

Would this present a problem and how it could be overcome?

Dear Friar Mathew. I'm considering joining an Order. After years away from the Church, I've recently come back and have been increasingly moved by the idea. However, I have pretty bad disabilities revolving around my leg and hip and have problems moving, sometimes even leaving the house. I'm wondering if this would present a problem and how it could be overcome?

Dear Christian,

You are right to wonder whether physical disability can prevent a person pursuing a religious vocation. The rules nowadays are not nearly as severe as in past generations.

Sensibly, the church says today that you must "have the health, suitable character, and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the proper life" of the religious congregation you propose to join. Just how much health this requires will therefore vary with the nature of the Order.

Clearly, a missionary Order that requires members to live in poorer and even primitive locations and which may involve a lot of travel on foot would not be able to accept you. Depending on the exact nature of your disability, standing in a classroom all day might not be possible and it maybe therefore even a teaching order could not accept you. Other groups may have a less strenuous lifestyle and so your infirmity may not present an obstacle to your acceptance by them.

The best path forward, Christian, is to talk openly with the Vocation Director of that group. They will tell you whether they foresee a difficulty for you in living their lifestyle. Nearly all Orders require a person to undertake a medical examination prior to their entry so that they can assess for just this purpose.

Be candid with the group and they can give you an honest answer. Good luck.


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