Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I know that monasteries and convents now require that anyone who is seeking monasticism has to have completed a university degree. I am wondering if there is a maximum age—an age limit, by which convents will not accept anyone seeking the monastic life past that point? If someone decided to pursue higher studies and do graduate school because they wanted to be diligent in their role as a student and to achieve the highest education they can so they can then offer it as a sacrifice for Christ and leave it all behind, but after they obtain their degree, they will have to first work for a few years to pay off their school debts, so they will likely not be able to enter the convent before age 32-33. Is that too old? Can convents turn down people because they are seeking the monastic life at an older age? I have been frequently visiting a particular convent and my father of confession knows the desires of my heart. I haven't spoken openly with the Abbess there yet, but I will in my next visit, God willing. I recently spoke to a bishop who is like a father to me and knows my situation. He told me to make sure there wasn't an age limit, because I will not consider entering the convent unless I have personally paid off all my schools debts. He was worried that I might be turned away at that point because of my age.

The rules of admission to the monastic life are set in place for safeguarding the individual requesting to live the ascetic life of monastics. It is important for the abbot or abbess to determine if the seeker is choosing this vocation as her calling or for other reasons. Everything is taken into perspective and the recommendation of the woman's confession father is of great value. It would not be fair for someone seeking monasticism to leave her debts behind for her family to reimburse. Thus, the seeker should reveal all issues honestly and openly with the abbot or abbess and her confession father. No one is turned away simply because of age, but age is a factor, amongst other considerations, in the overall decision. In the meantime, make frequent visits to the convent you are considering and ask your confession father to provide you with some directives. We are not sure about the age limit in that particular convent, which you are seeking, but at St. Mary and St. Demiana Convent in the Southern Diocese, we do not have this rule about age.
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