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Way In

Nun's on the run

 

Alicia Torres was inspired to consider becoming a nun after the Pope's visit to the USA last year. 'I thought that sooner or later she would be religious,' says her father. 'I suspected that for years. I knew she wanted to help the needy and promote the faith.' 
But the journey of a young student into religious vocation is not as easy as it once was. Having dealt with some of the biggest obstacles - she has encountered romantic possibilities that tested her resolve for celibacy, she says - she looked forward to a life of service.
Naturally, as a Catholic novice Torres would be expected to take vows of obedience and poverty. Difficult to accept for today's independent consumer minds, certainly. Torres' difficulty, however, came not in giving up her wealth but giving up her debt - $100,000 of student loans. 
'With a vow of poverty, you live in an environment where you don't receive any money and the community lives off the generation of others,' she says. 'We don't have the opportunity to go out and make a salary to continue paying off things like debt. And so, in order to enter religious life, I have to eliminate all of my debt.'
In some cases the Church has been happy to help people in these circumstances. Recently though, it has become aware that paying off such debts has made the novitiate attractive for the wrong reasons. The Chicago Diocese has reported that a number of  women have confessed to entering religious life simply because they couldn't pay off what they owed. 
This leaves Torres no option but to embark on a round of fundraising. So far so good: last month she raised $20,000 by running the Chicago half marathon. n

Alicia Torres was inspired to consider becoming a nun after the Pope's visit to the USA last year. 'I thought that sooner or later she would be religious,' says her father. 'I suspected that for years. I knew she wanted to help the needy and promote the faith.' 

But the journey of a young student into religious vocation is not as easy as it once was. Having dealt with some of the biggest obstacles - she has encountered romantic possibilities that tested her resolve for celibacy, she says - she looked forward to a life of service.

Naturally, as a Catholic novice Torres would be expected to take vows of obedience and poverty. Difficult to accept for today's independent consumer minds, certainly. Torres' difficulty, however, came not in giving up her wealth but giving up her debt - $100,000 of student loans. 

'With a vow of poverty, you live in an environment where you don't receive any money and the community lives off the generation of others,' she says. 'We don't have the opportunity to go out and make a salary to continue paying off things like debt. And so, in order to enter religious life, I have to eliminate all of my debt.'

In some cases the Church has been happy to help people in these circumstances. Recently though, it has become aware that paying off such debts has made the novitiate attractive for the wrong reasons. The Chicago Diocese has reported that a number of  women have confessed to entering religious life simply because they couldn't pay off what they owed. 

This leaves Torres no option but to embark on a round of fundraising. So far so good: last month she raised $20,000 by running the Chicago half marathon.