Discerning vocations in overseas communities
#1
Does anyone have any idea about how one would go about this? Particularly if funds are limited. Maybe past experience.
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#2
i have heard of aspirants (who are now living in their respective communities) having received donations to go to visit from their priests or benefactors and parishers after bringing up their cases.

Visiting is an issue here in Asia where so many communities are overseas in the USA and Europe, where the income is quite low vis-a-vis that of the Western world. I went to Sydney last year and am going to New Zealand in December to visit and am paying through my savings account. The problem of course is to pay for the airfare: you might stay for next-to-free in convents who will always welcome aspirants to stay in.

I worked for 6 months as a office worker in my school and earned $65 a day, and thus raised the amount of money in my bank account for drastically. I don't think its too difficult really to work to save up for a trip: I am studying now full-time and will pay off about half my expenses to New Zealand just by giving tuition to 3 kids for 4 hours a week over 4 months.

Just give about a couple of months and a decent part-time job and you will really be able to finance something to the US or Europe...even better with a full-time job that employs you throughout the entire day, if you are not schooling. And I am sure it is okay to ask your parents to chip in some money and to promise to pay them back later. And when you are there, visit as many communities as possible within the same country. So discern and do the work before planning of course  ;)

Another bonus is that all religious communities will appreciate it very much when you have working experience. In fact they might even require it, as one would grow in maturity and learn to foster good inter-personal relationships with others.

God bless you!
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#3
well, the main thing is to be debt free to begin with, even if you are going to a community in the US, debt can often be the stumbling block and sadly it consumes many wanna be and current seminarians (I know of several seminarians whose ordination is being delayed due to debt).  There are some resources available online such as scholarships and such, however due to the state of the economy much of the funding has been sapped.  However, if debt is not an issue, visiting such communities, like plan well which community you would like.  Visit many, but go where you feel called unless you plan multiple trips, but I can't visit a community in a few days, I need to week or more to fully understand them.  Not to mention, speak with the vocation director through writing of intended desires.  When you have enough money saved to visit the community, do so and meet face to face and spend a peiod of time with them, because familiar with both the life and any deficiencies you may have (such as language barriers), if that is where your heart belong talk with the vocation director more and go home and save more money or ask for it (I know several friends who have done letter campaigns and other stuff to raise money for oversea missions).  The only other expense I can think of beside plane tickets and a valid passport would be visa papers as you are going presumably be living there for much of your life. 
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#4
the debt thing is very true. If you are planning to enter into studies or some college at this juncture it would be very wise to think twice about the money involved and to have an extensive discussion with your spiritual director.

From my own experience i suggest having already written to the order for about a year or so before visiting. Much can be said and learnt in letters and the input from a good director will also enable you to select which ones to visit in the end.

Monastic and contemplative orders are also quite picky about the aspirants they take in and i believe the Carmelites for instance do insist on a few years of exchange, visiting and discernment before one enters.

I would highly recommend not planning an expensive trip to these orders without the encouragement of a director who knows you well, as many temperaments and people are really not cut out for the monastic/contemplative life and the order will usually encourage anyone who wants to visit even if they have to spend quite a sum anyway....
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