Progress Report

When I finished school, between undergrad and law school, despite working part-time and living at home through undergrad and working full time through law school to minimize expenses, I had taken on a total of almost $135,000 in educational debt. 

After many sacrifices, working to reduce my debt, and with the generous gifts of some individuals, I am happy to say this number has been reduced by approximately 15%!  My educational debt has shrunk by a little over $20,000.  Deo gratias!

Nonetheless, there is still a large, though slightly smaller, hurdle remaining.  Approximately $114,000 remains before I will free to pursue religious life and continue my discernment and begin formation as a cloistered Dominican nun at Corpus Christi Monastery.  A large hurdle to overcome by spring of next year; but with God, anything is possible!


  1. I ask these questions in charity: is this debt not seen as an impediment to vocation? Is is Church teaching that others are to ovecome this obstacle, for you, and assume responsibility for your debts? Should you not persevere, what then?

    • Dear Maria,

      Yes, my debt is an impediment, hence I am currently not able to enter religious life. The debt is my responsibility, and one which I take very seriously. I have and continue to work long and hard to pay down my debt.

      Nonetheless, it is becoming increasingly recognized that many men and women are discerning their vocations later in life and by that time, many are burdened with education debts, mortgages, and other worldly things that serve as impediments to religious life. There are those who recognize the importance of vocations to the Church and realize the situation that many aspirants find themselves as a result of going to college during or prior to discerning their vocation. Hence, we now have wonderful organizations like the Laboure Society and Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations, in addition to many other foundations and individual benefactors who feel called to give generously to meet this need in the Church. These organizations and benefactors are willing to help with educational debt so that aspirants might be free to pursue their vocations and these religious and priestly vocations are not lost.

      Ultimately, my life, including and especially my vocation, indeed my entire being, belong to God. I am His; it is His calling and He chooses when and how to provide. I diligently do the work God has given me, strive to seek Him and do His will, and leave all in His hands. Should this impediment not be removed, I will continue to joyfully trust God to direct my steps.

  2. I understand that the debt is an impediment to entering. Is the debt itself not conidered an impediement to a VOCATION? How is someone else’s paying your debt understood from a theological perspective. I ask these questions in earnest. Finally, my question remains with regard to failure in perseverance.

    • Dear Maria,

      To rephrase your first question as I understand it, you are asking the following: if a person has an impediment, is that in and of itself a sign that person is not called by God to that vocation? Not necessarily (depending on the impediment), though it may be a factor in an individual’s and the prospective religious community’s discernment (it is not just the aspirant that discerns a religious call, but it must be confirmed by the Church). But, as a person strives to overcome the impediment (if that is possible, and in the case of debt, it is) God can use that impediment to grow within the aspirant holiness and virtues, such as humility, perseverance, faith, and charity toward God. For examples of this, all we need to do is look at many of the saints, blesseds, and priests and religious today who have sacrificed and had to overcome many challenges and impediments to pursue their calling to priestly and religious life.

      I believe I have addressed your other two questions sufficiently, but to summarize – we have responsibility for our obligations, which I fully embrace. However, out of charity and concern for the body of Christ, which is the Church, there are those who have recognized a need to assist aspirants to priestly and religious life with educational debt so they may pursue their vocation in service to the body of Christ. I desire most to love and serve God in accordance with His will and feel strongly called to religious life. But I cannot tell the future anymore than the next person, so I trust tomorrow to the hands of God and will persevere in seeking Him.

      Thank you for your questions. Peace and blessings to you and your family!

  3. Thank you for your response and explanation of discernment and aspirancy. I have two Aunts who were nuns. You have indicated that ” as a person strives to overcome the impediment (if that is possible, and in the case of debt, it is) God can use that impediment to grow within the aspirant holiness and virtues, such as humility, perseverance, faith, and charity toward God”. If someone else is overcoming the impediemt, i.e., paying your debt, how is holiness and virtue advanced? Isn’t the holinesss and virtue of the the individual paying your debt the holiness and virtue that enlarges? Isn’ t this conclusion one would logically reach ?

    Should you not persevere and leave religious life, do you re-pay the debt you owe others? Would you even be able to?

    Honest questions worthy of consideration. I hope that God blesses your endeavors.

  4. The landscape of higher education in the U.S. has changed radically in the last 10-20 years for many students. Thousands of new lawyers now graduate with the millstone of educational debt around their neck with very little hope of securing employment in the legal field. Law schools are a nice earner for the institutions that have them who are, in the view of many, complicit in this upward transfer of wealth from law students to universities (including “Catholic” [CINO] universities) by misrepresenting the realities of the legal job market. Google the term “law school scam” to learn more about this. Tara is in a similar situation to thousands of other American law students who now face a future with limited options. The only difference here is that she wants to pursue a religious vocation.

    I have a relative who went into the convent in the 1960’s with a M.A. in hand. She didn’t owe a dime in students loans and was therefore free to pursue her vocation. It was a different time and place. Moreover, it was routine during those years for students to default on their student loans deliberately and with impunity. My relative is in one of those aging orders where the sisters are big into “social justice,” who make up their theology as they go along without reference to the Magisterium, and who are in the habit of making broad sweeping statements about things they know nothing about. She would probably look at Tara and say she was “privileged” because of her eduation and race. I know differently.

    NB: I am not knocking “social justice” per se, but is must never be a substitute for loving the individual person.

    It took me nearly 20 years to pay off my college and law school loans, Tara. It was very hard. You have my sincere empathy and soon, I hope, I will be able to contribute to your fundraising drive.

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