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Student Debt Hurting Religious Vocations

May 2, 2012, 4:06 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

One of the less visible dangers of rapidly increasing levels of student debt is the way that it limitsthe career options of young people entering the work force. Saddled with debt, graduates who feel called to pursue lower-paying non-profit and service jobs find themselves barred from doing so.

A story at MSNBC points out that this problem is affecting religious vocations too:

Nicole Ferko’s $60,000 in student loans made her put off her dream of becoming a nun for a decade.

Ferko, who lives in Grand Prairie, Texas, graduated from a private Ohio Catholic university in 2002 and walked away with a huge loan burden.

“I knew I wanted to give my life to God, but I expected after college I’d go right in and work toward becoming a sister,” she said. But she discovered that individuals looking to become priests or nuns need to be debt free.

It took her until late last year to pay off her loans because she was unable to find many good-paying jobs and ended up racking up $20,000 in credit card debt. With the loans and credit cards paid off, Ferko, 32, is now on track to become a sister with The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, but she won’t reach her ultimate goal of donning a nun’s habit until she’s 39 because the process takes that long.

Given the glaring shortage of clergy of all kinds in America right now, we don’t need more structural disincentives to lives of service.

Photo by Frank Ferko

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