UNVEILED: THE DECISION OF RELIGIOUS SISTERS TO LEAVE THE CONVENT
AVEGAIL M. ALAPIDE
M.A. Psychology (2009)
Department of Psychology
This study is about the decision-making process of former religious sisters who leave the convent. It will show us the process, reasons and the purpose or significance of the departure. Fourteen participants from eight different active congregations (members are involved in a particular work outside the convent vs contemplative whose members are cloistered) with age range of 30-34 years old (n=5); 35-39 years old (n=2); 40-44 years old (n=6); and 45-49 years old (n=1) joined the study. Three were originally from Manila and 11 were originally from the provinces but have chosen to stay in Manila (Luzon-2; Visayas-5; Mindanao-4). Participants were recruited through snowball sampling which started in a theological school where ex-sisters were either students or part of the staff. As a qualitative study, an in-depth, semi-structured interview was used as a method. The study presented the 10 phases in the decision-making process of religious sisters about leaving the convent. Most had problems arising from within the convent (n=11) and stayed within the span of 5-9 years (n=8). Eleven were in temporal vows (vs perpetual vows or lifetime membership (n=3)) when they leave the fold. One participant became a religious sister again while three are now seeking re-admission. Those who are joining a religious congregation once more will renew the instrumental commitment or commitment to the organization (Kanter 1972; 1977) which was weakened when they left. Meanwhile, for those who have remained as ex-sisters, the two other levels of commitment: affective or commitment to the belonging system, i.e. former co-sisters; and moral, commitment to the meaning system, i.e. ideals of religious life and God, remain alive.