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Has anyone ever heard of being a nun but living in your own home pretty much doing your own thing?  Is there such a thing?

I know a person who has an elderly aunt.  This aunt supposedly took vows back in the 1950s but nobody in her family seems to know what type of nun she might be.  I think for awhile she may have done some overseas missionary work, but for most of her life she has just lived alone, in her own home, and did some type of counseling work.  Since she is elderly, I was thinking perhaps she was just retired and living alone, but my friend doesn't recall her ever living in a convent or community of other nuns.

I have never met this lady, otherwise I would just ask her. 

She could possibly be eremitical or semi-eremitical (ie: a hermit or semi-hermit).  I know of laymen and women who are called to an eremitical life and will live this way with or without formal vows.  Here is an article I found which describes this type of sanctified life:

Why Become A Canonical Diocesan Hermit?[url=http://doihaveavocation.com/blog/archives/108#comments][/url] 
by Therese Ivers, JCL
There are two types of hermits.  The first is the privately dedicated individual who makes private vows.  The other is the canonical (diocesan) hermit who makes public vows.  Since both of them live in solitude, it may seem on the surface that there is little difference between living in public or private vows.  This, however, is not the case, and we will go through some of the differences between the private hermit and the canonical hermit.
The private hermit makes vows.  These vows can be made alone or before a priest (the priest merely witnesses the vows; he does not accept them in the name of the Church).  The hermit who wishes to profess a vow of obedience should find an individual who would be suitable as a superior or moderator and who agrees to function as such.   Normally, it is best if the superior is not his spiritual director unless exceptional circumstances call for it and if the extent of the obedience owed is clearly spelled out in the hermit’s rule of life.  Otherwise, the private hermit should not make a vow of obedience but should content himself with the vows of poverty and chastity.  The vow of obedience more properly belongs to the applicable canonical forms of consecrated life, not to private individuals who are not living in community or under hierarchical authority.
Who, then, is a private hermit?  A hermit under private vow(s) is lay (unless he is a cleric).  As a privately dedicated individual, he should not style himself “brother” or wear a habit of a particular order.   Since  he is not a member of the consecrated state, he should refrain from speaking of himself as a Catholic hermit as that implies canonical status as such.  Rather, he should explain to those he may encounter that he is a lay person drawn to solitude with its implication of prayer and penance.
The diocesan, or canonical hermit, on the other hand, is an individual whose superior is his local bishop.  He receives formation suitable for his calling and if his call is genuine, he may make his profession in the hands of his bishop.  Frequently, the canonical hermit wears identifiable garb.  The cowl is traditional for hermits.  He has a superior in the form of his bishop, and he lives out his vow of obedience as spelled out in the rule of life which he wrote and was accepted by the bishop.  He may call himself “Brother” and may refer to himself as a canonical hermit or a hermit by right of his profession.
Discernment on the part of both the hermit-candidate and the bishop can be helpful in pointing out the will of God for the discerner.  The period of testing and formation can help bring the candidate into a fuller understanding and appreciation for his vocation as a public witness to Christ through a life of solitude, prayer, and penance.  Further, the acceptance of the person as a canonical hermit gives the blessing and recognition of the Church upon him and acts as a sacramental.
As a publicly consecrated eremetic person, the canonical hermit usually enjoys the privilege of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in his hermitage.   This privilege is not normally given to private hermits because they are not recognized as hermits under the law.  The reservation of the Eucharist is permitted to the diocesan hermit by some bishops because of his unique vocation of assiduous prayer and penance.  It is similar to that privilege given to consecrated virgins by virtue of their being the brides of Christ who keep Him as their center of life, and of religious for their chapels to assist them in their vocation.
Some people are called to be private hermits.  Others are called to be canonical hermits.  Either way, the differences are not slight.

  
Yes, I've heard of it before  - as a matter of fact I think St. Catherine of Sienna lived this way for a while. Sorry I can't tell you more because the facts elude me.

Lots of NO nuns (sisters) live alone in their own apartments and have since probably the latter 60's or at least the 70's. I live in a senior complex and when I moved here, a Franciscan nun of an active community lived across the hall from me. She was retired, but still "ministered" to the homeless community here. She had lived here a long time--probably 10 years--alone. She died a couple of years ago.   -- I, myself, before I became a trad joined a new religious community called the Handmaids of Nazareth in which each member could live in their own homes and even be widowed with children. Several who applied were disabled like myself -- too ill to be in any convent.  I went through postulancy and novitiate, but decided it wasn't my cup of tea before I took my first vows. I couldn't hack the founddress. Too many problems which I began to see.--It seems to still be going, but is very small. I am glad I left. It is incompatible with trad Catholicism. I began to see that REAL nuns or sisters, live in a convent, in a community of other sisters or nuns. BTW, Mother Angelica always stated that "nuns" are cloistered and "sisters" are not.
Here is some information,

http://cloisters.tripod.com/id15.html

The point is that before Vatican II only nuns already established in the cloister were allowed to to live alone, and they kept close communication with others.

Naturally God's ways could be nonconformist.



Kateri Wrote:Has anyone ever heard of being a nun but living in your own home pretty much doing your own thing?  Is there such a thing?

I know a person who has an elderly aunt.  This aunt supposedly took vows back in the 1950s but nobody in her family seems to know what type of nun she might be.  I think for awhile she may have done some overseas missionary work, but for most of her life she has just lived alone, in her own home, and did some type of counseling work.  Since she is elderly, I was thinking perhaps she was just retired and living alone, but my friend doesn't recall her ever living in a convent or community of other nuns.

I have never met this lady, otherwise I would just ask her. 
Thanks to everyone for the information!