I didn’t WANT to be a nun. I was raised Catholic. I read stories of the saints. I believed in God. I prayed. But I didn’t go looking for any sort of religious lifestyle. They came looking for me. Consecrated women, with fake happy smiles, began by encouraging me to go to youth group (and encouraging my mother to send us). While there, we were told we were called to “incorporate” into ECYD. I remember when my younger sister refused (always the rebel :P ), they told her God spoke to them and told them she had to incorporate into ECYD. They were mad when she outright told them to leave her alone. This should have been my first clue. Other friends later were told the same thing. God told them… but didn’t send a message along to the girls themselves? But I didn’t need convincing. Why would I? It was a way of joining with other girls, being part of something. Looking back, I realize it was just the first step in indoctrination.
When I went to the summer program, I was hesitant. But the consecrated women promised fun and laughter and swimming. It was supposed to be a summer camp. No one told me I might stay. They especially never mentioned that I would be manipulated into staying.
I wasn’t there long before I knew I was staying. Conversations revolved around Christ’s calling. How could you say no? Vocation story upon vocation story told of girls as young as 12 and 13 fighting for their vocation, no matter the cost, personal, familial, or otherwise. Leave your father and mother and follow me. How could I be selfish and not give myself to him? And besides, look how HAPPY the PCs are. Look at them, not discussing anything other than their joy, their triumphs. No one dared say “run for your life”.
Other ex-PCs have done a fine job illustrating the mental and physical anguish. Some might say it’s typical teenage pain but I only stayed the one year, grade 9, before my parents refused to let me return. The typical teenage pain I experienced in 10th -12th grades (fighting with friends, highschool heartbreak, deaths of friends and peers) , although plenty traumatic in certain situations, is nothing like this.
I was a shell of myself when I returned home. Having spent an entire year crying every single day, being berated for my emotions, being told to be an example for others and not let them know my pain, being so far removed from my family (being out of country meant missing the thanksgiving visit, and the possible one visit a month for those that lived close)- it nearly broke me. Luckily, my family held me up. Luckily, I’d lost only one year, not 4, not some undetermined amount of time I most definitely would have spent consecrated had my family not intervened (and yes, I HAD decided I was called to be consecrated, at the very mature age of 14).
So parents, do not suggest this “program” for your children. And if they tell you it’s God’s will, if they beg and plead and tell you “Please Mom, this is my vocation. I don’t know if I’ll ever be strong enough to follow it again. It’s your vocation to let me”, be the parent. Realize you have a teenager who is good and loving and wants to love God, but it’s your duty to protect her. She needs you now more than ever.14 is not old enough.