The One Thing Holding Woman Back From Joining Convent, and It Isn't What You Think

(Photo courtesy of Mary Beth Baker)

Even aspiring nuns have to worry about student loans.

Before Mary Beth Baker, 28, can enter the convent in mid-August, she has to settle the remaining $25,000 of college debt she racked up while studying philosophy at Christendom College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Front Royal, Va.

"You're taken care of but you're definitely not making money," Baker told of the reason why she has to tie up financial loose ends before she is allowed to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville.

Baker's alma mater has forgiven some of her debt, which she said she will incur again if she ever leaves the convent, however she has turned to crowdfunding to settle the remaining $25,000.

She described it as the first major step before she leaves her life in Washington, D.C., where she works in public relations.

"From there you have to get rid of everything you own, so I will slowly be giving away my library and my clothes and sell my car," she said.

In Nashville, Baker will be living a life full of prayer, poverty and working with the community. A nun's daily schedule at the convent begins at 5 a.m. and ends in silence at 8 p.m., according to the St. Cecilia website.

Last year, Baker said she hit a point where she was no longer satisfied with work and dating, so she decided to pray about it.

"After a certain point I started meeting regularly with a priest who was getting to know me, and then he put me in touch with the sisters," she said. "On my second visit, I was able to sit down and say, 'This is my story and I'd really like to enter.'"

After going through the application process, which Baker said included a physical and psychological evaluation, she said received an invitation last week to join the convent.

"It's a life of poverty and that's the beauty of it. You embrace it," she said. "I'm incredibly blessed. Everyone has been very, very supportive."

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