Student loans are one of those unspoken scandals- one which has severely damaged the Catholic Church in terms of vocations.
Young people have attended universities in numbers like never before, as they are told it is the only way to find a good job and it is a good place for personal development: and in their 20s leave with a large debt they have to pay interest on. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in a “Fail to Launch” situation in which they financially struggle, which impacts finding a spouse, being able to afford a home, having a family etc. Student loans on the whole are not “helping”, they have been a curse on the young.
It is estimated that in the United States each year there are 10,000 individuals who are discerning the seminary or religious life, of whom 42% are blocked from doing so because of student debt. Cash strapped dioceses can only afford to pay off so much, and most religious communities cannot afford to absorb the debt. Student loans are a big factor in the US vocations crisis.
Enter the brave heroes of the Laboure Society, who saw this crisis and decided to do something about it: assisting those who have been accepted into seminaries but cannot enter due to their debts. Though their help, many have been able to fulfill their vocational calling. They only deal in US-based student loans, and then only for entry into institutions which are in the Official Catholic Directory.
The average size of a loan they work with is $60,000 (although they have worked with smaller), and the highest has been over $300,000.
In my correspondence with them I had to explain what an Ordinariate was, but their admissions director said they can help aspirants from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter if they meet the following criteria:
1. Official letter of acceptance from the diocese they are discerning with.
2. Letter of recommendation from their parish priest, vocation or spiritual director.
3. Must have US-based loans.
4. Loans must be in good standing and not in a collection agency.
5. Loans must be acquired before entering our program.
6. While participating in our program they must be living in the US.
If accepted by the Chair of St Peter’s seminary and you are assisted by the Laboure Society, you will be required to do the society’s six month course.
If you know someone to whom this information might be helpful, please share it with them. Lets try to break the tragedy of student loans affecting vocations, especially Ordinariate ones.