Fr. Chris Lemieux is the Director of the Vocations Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto. As we continue to celebrate the Month of Vocations, we asked him about the steps that women can take if they feel God might be calling them to the religious life.
How frequently does the Vocations Office hear from women? How do you respond to their calls?
Most of the contacts we get are from men, but we do get women calling us, too. Just like with a man who calls me about the priesthood, if a woman calls me inquiring about religious life, I'll ask for her to come in for a meeting so that we can have a short talk and I can refer her from there.
What do you say to someone who calls you and says "I'm not sure, but I think God might be calling me to be a nun?"
I arrange a meeting with her so that I can talk to her in person. Meeting with someone can give me an initial sense of whether or not she should inquire further into the process for discerning religious life. If it isn't where she's called, that's perfectly fine.
Where do you direct these women?
Over the past year I've been building up relationships with the various vocations directors of religious communities in and around the Archdiocese of Toronto. We've got a lot of women's religious communities, each with their specific charism and community life. They're much better equipped to speak about their particular way of life, so what I do is contact the vocations director of one of the communities so the community can help the woman continue to discern.
Of course, I don't end the process there and forget about them! I like to check in from time to time to make sure the discernment process is going along well, and ensure the woman is headed in the right direction.
Does your office have information about Come and See weekends for women?
Yes, the vocations directors from the various religious orders often share their Come and See weekend dates with me so that I can pass the information along to the women I speak with. I think Come and See weekends are great and I invite women to contact the communities they're interested in.
What do you want to say to those women who are on the fence about whether or not to call you?
It takes a lot of courage to call me. I've been putting a lot of focus on getting out to parishes and meeting people. When you can put a face to the name, it makes it easier to give me a call. Also, I'm not in the recruiting business. My role is to determine what the Lord's will is for that person's life. If it isn't God's will for her to be a religious sister, that's okay. But always take that first step and give me a call.
How can a woman interested in religious life contact you?
The number at the Vocations Office is 416-968-0997 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.