Catholic Nuns

Discussion in 'Clergy' started by she04, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. she04

    she04 Active Member

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    I have a nun (possibly) in my family tree I'm trying to trace. So I thought I'd share all my information on how one would go about tracing and who can become nun and different types of orders.

    Firstly to become a nun one must convert to Roman Catholic faith.
    Who can become a nun? Anyone within reason.
    ~ A widow can if she has dependants over the age of 18.
    ~ A single lady, even a divorced woman under exceptional circumstances.
    ~ If divorced, the Catholic church does not recognise this. A priest will interview the divorcee and ask questions and discuss why they want to become a nun. Then the divorcee applies for an annulment by the church. Any Catholic church has the annulment form you can fill in. A priest can help you fill in the form.

    To first apply for an annulment, you MUST be divorced already in a civil court. Then prove to the church that the marriage was entered into with information kept from one or both parties, eg - your partner lied about wanting children or cheated multiple times (once doesn't count).
    Depending on the church, the annulment can take upto a year or longer to be granted.

    "Postulant" is a word used for one who has made a request or demand for admission into a monastery or religious order/institute. Today the term more used for this old word is "enquirer" or "observer".
    "Novitiate" is the period of training and preparation that a novice undergoes prior to taking vows. This includes intense study, prayer, living in the community, deepening one's relationship with God and self awareness. This usually takes two years. The novice can quit at any time, and the superior can dismiss them with or without cause.

    "Postulancy" is the next stage and can take 1-3 years. You can pick your name, and it can be anything you want it to be. (I came across one called sister Margaret with 9 fingers, 1 missing). They are allowed no personal possessions and take a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.
    The next stage is deciding what kind of order, monastery or convent you want to join.
    In a monastery or convent, one chooses to help others and be reclusive in prayer and song.
    There are mainly 3 types of nuns:

    ~ Mendicant type nuns support themselves via alms and sometimes do not live in a monastery or convent. Their work is through charity, school groups and church, locally and globally. Orders of this type of nuns are Dominicans, Carmelites, Augustinians, Trinitarians and Franciscans.

    ~ Monastic nuns are the most devout. They work and live in a monastery. They recite the "Devine Office" daily, which contains several prayer times each day, including midnight, dawn, 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. Nuns of this type are Benedictines, Basilians, Trappists and Cistercians.

    ~ Canons Regular and Clerics Regular are the third type of nun. Canons Regular includes nuns who recite the "Devine Office" and may be in charge of a local parish. However, the parish is always run by a priest with a few exceptions. Nuns instead will be in charge of other things.
    Clerics Regular are very similar. Nuns in thus type of order are Jesuits, Barnabites and Somascans.

    Benedictine nuns are the strictest order. They are devoted to their community and follow very strict rules set by St Benedict. The rules include being instructed on which books they can and cannot read, activities being regulated and punishments received when appropriate.
    They follow a tight timetable each day and have hours of silence.
    Of all the orders, Carmelite have a high ratio of visions Mary and Jesus. They also write many Catholic devotions.

    To become a nun you need
    ~ Letters of recommendations with name and address.
    ~ Current medical exam papers.
    ~ Copy of your birth certificate.
    ~ Certificates of baptism and confirmation.
    ~ A community questionaire.
    ~ You must be free of debt.
    ~ Have no living children under age 18
    ~ Be physically and psychologically healthy.

    So if you are tracing a nun in your family, it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I've been informed that you need to have date of birth, parents' names, baptism and confirmation dates. And last of all, a fairly good idea of what kind of order your nun may have joined. If you have no information, it is near impossible to trace her. But if you do, you can write to the order, or visit your local priest and secretary who will happily help. You can also write to the Vatican.
     
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  2. gillyflower

    gillyflower Always caring about others

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    :) That is interesting, thanks for sharing
     
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  3. mugwortismy cat

    mugwortismy cat Tenacious to the End!

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    There are also Anglican nuns ;)
     
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  4. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    That there are and so I shall change the title of this thread to Catholic Nuns. :)
     
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  5. Blackmogs

    Blackmogs Moderator. General Dogs(cats)body. Staff Member

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    Excellent piece thanks Sheena @she04. I found my first catholic about the time you joined the forum and it frightened the daylights out of me. Not your joining but my find :)
     
  6. she04

    she04 Active Member

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    Oh Blackmogs, I'm now finding so many in my family tree. Weird thing is they keep "turning" depending on who they are marrying. I have an awful lot mixed marriages . Sad thing is, I never knew my Catholic ancestors, they disowned their son when he married my gran. Then my gran was widowed very young with four children and no help from his side. A nun visited my gran to see how the children were being raised (my gran believed it was her dead husband's sister) hence why I was interested in trying to trace her. You may find a lot more ;)
     
  7. Ronald G. Heroux

    Ronald G. Heroux New Member

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    As a caretaker of parish sacramental records I learned that religious vows are supposed to be recorded in the baptismal record of said religious. Thus, if you can find out where a person was baptized you can ask if his/her religious order was recorded in the baptismal register.
     
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  8. AnnaJenny

    AnnaJenny Well-Known Member

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    I don't want to be the doom monger on this but I have quite a few Catholic nuns in my family, over generations. There is nothing on the baptismal records on the ones I have found in the PRs. Of course this might be because the PRs are in Ireland and they were recruited to an order in America. The parents and probably the whole community would have known where the girls went. I am talking about rural 'Irish Free State' so perhaps the rules did not (or were not!) applied.
     

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