Most know that student loan debt impacts the lives of millions of borrowers. Surprisingly, this includes those yearning to serve the Catholic church. Thousands of men and women of Catholic faith, called to religious life, cannot answer because of student loan debt.
The church asks priests and nuns to live a life of simplicity. And, traditionally, being in debt signified that a person was not ready for such a life. Debt carries the stigma of wasteful characteristics beyond spending habits. Also, maybe more importantly, dioceses have been unwilling to take on an aspirant’s debt.
But for most of the last 2000 years, this did not include student loan debt.
For nearly two millennia, discernment has been the path to Catholic religious life. Men and women look deeply within themselves and seek signs from outside. They discern God’s will to understand if they should become an aspirant, the first step toward an ecclesiastic life. But the church turns many potential aspirants away at the door, even though they discern their life to be one of spiritual service.
Forty-two percent are told: the Church will welcome you when the amount of your student loan debt is zero.
The American Catholic church is suffering from a shortage of priests and nuns. With student loan debt on the rise, The Laboure Society has made itself the bridge between the life of the layperson and the ordained. Its mission is to rescue vocations by finding and teaching and facilitating efficient ways to discharge their student loan debt.
Laboure makes sure aspirants have exhausted all possible mitigations to their debt, then trains them in biblically based philanthropy. Basically, as a team, the borrowers learn to fundraise to reduce their collective student loan debt. Laboure awards monthly payments for their loans, giving final award payoff after a maximum of three years, freeing participants to become priests, sisters, or brothers.
So much better than the more than 20 years it takes people, on average, to pay off their student debts.
The society is named for Saint Catherine Laboure who wanted to become a nun, though her father refused to provide a dowry to the church. She kept her faith, and eventually her brother provided the financial support she needed. The Daughters of Charity, a Catholic nursing order founded by St. Vincent DePaul, accepted her. The church eventually considered Laboure’s vision of, and conversation with, the Virgin Mary, a miracle. This inspired the Miraculous Medal worn by millions of Catholics.
Based on her personal experience, Saint Catherine was especially dedicated to assisting those on their vocational journeys. And the society named in her honor inspires more miracles. It delivers hundreds of aspirants into formation, the next step toward committing to lives of Catholic guidance and spiritual service.
At Ameritech Financial, we are not steeped in thousands of years of religious thought and ceremony. But, we also assist those blocked by student loan debt, helping to navigate pathways forward in discerning one’s true life calling.
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