Aspiring Religious Delay Entry to Pay off Debt
By Colleen Dulle, Catholic News Service
Pictured -Dominican Brother James Mary Ritch who paid off his student loans through the Labouré Society.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For some aspiring priests and religious, the biggest obstacle to pursuing their vocation is student debt. Because many religious orders do not accept members with outstanding debts, 42 percent of individuals discerning religious life in the U.S. are barred from formation because of their student loans, according to the Labouré Society, a nonprofit that helps people in this situation raise funds to pay off their loans.
According to multiple studies by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, one in three people seeking to enter religious life carries student debt, which on average amounts to about $28,000.
For Andrew McCullough, an aspiring Dominican, that number was $20,000. McCullough studied mechanican engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle and moved to Washington D.C., last fall to be near the Dominican community he hoped to join. The plan was to work off his loans for a year, then begin his novitiate this fall.