A twenty-something would-be nun has set up a crowdfunding webpage to help her pay off the $25,000 remainder of her student loan debt so she can enter a convent in mid-August.
Mary Beth Baker, 28, accumulated the hefty debt back in her days as a philosophy major at Christendom College, a tiny bastion of Roman Catholicism and the liberal arts in rural Northern Virginia.
The convent Baker wants to enter, Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville, Tenn., won’t accept her until she becomes debt-free, reports ABC News.
The devout Catholic said the notion of entering a convent came to her last year after she became sick of dating and unsatisfied in her public relations job in Washington, D.C.
On her Twitter profile, she describes herself as a writer, an editor, a “hardcore Catholic” and a lover of red wine, bold colors, literature, philosophy, & good conversation.”
There’s an application process to join a nunnery. There’s also physical and psychological examinations, and several other steps.
Baker said she was finally officially invited to join the Sisters of St. Cecelia last week.
The vows she takes will, of course, include a vow of poverty. She must get rid of all of her earthly belongings — her car, her books, her clothes and mammon generally.
“It’s a life of poverty and that’s the beauty of it,” Baker told ABC News. “You embrace it. I’m incredibly blessed. Everyone has been very, very supportive.”
Nuns can’t enter the vocation with a bunch of debt, obviously, because they aren’t generating much at all in the way of income.
According to the convent’s website, Baker’s typical day will include a 5 a.m. wake-up call, Vespers with Rosary at 5 p.m., silence at 8 p.m. and then “profound silence” at 10 p.m.
School officials at Christendom College have agreed to forgive a part of Baker’s total student debt, provided she doesn’t leave the convent, ever. Baker is still stuck with the $25,000 portion, though.
Tuition, fees and room and board at Christendom runs $32,600 annually.
Baker’s fundraising page on the crowdfunding website Fundly is called “Help Mary Beth Enter the Convent.”
Judging from her Twitter account, things appear to be going pretty well:
Wow. The power of social media. 48 hours in, and 21% of the way to my fundraising goal. Thank you! God bless you. http://t.co/XfXAJKkvdO
— Mary Beth Baker (@mb_baker) April 7, 2014
Truly amazing. 39% of my goal reached, and it’s only Day 3. This is what happens when the #blessedmother is in charge of your campaign!
— Mary Beth Baker (@mb_baker) April 8, 2014
The Huffington Post notes that Baker is far from the first layperson to be prevented from entering a religious order because of student loan debts. Data from a 2012 study by the National Religious Vocation Conference suggests that 69 percent of religious institutes have rejected one or more applicants because of their student loans.