The following comes from an October 24 Catholic News Agency article by Kevin J Jones:

Personal and student debt can slow down or prevent prospective seminarians and aspirants to religious orders from pursuing their vocations, but one organization with national scope aims to change that.

“The Laboure Society’s work is critical because thousands of discerning men and women are seeking to answer the Lord’s call to serve his Church, but they are blocked from entering formation because of outstanding student loan debt,” said Bill LeMire, director of advancement for the Laboure Society. “These are vocations [in] the Catholic Church that we will lose if they are not helped.”

According to LeMire, there are about 4,000 men and women seriously discerning the priesthood or religious life, but they have outstanding student loans.

“Through the Laboure program, five figure debt has been erased in six months, and six figure debt has been eliminated in 12-18 months,” LeMire told CNA. “These timelines would be impossible if the aspirants were trying to raise money on their own.”

Aspirants accepted to the society’s program have an average of about $60,000 in loans. The Laboure Society says it has helped more than 240 men and women enter formation for the priesthood or religious life, raising over $5 million since 2003.

The society works with each aspirant to assure that he or she has used all means to mitigate debt before they are accepted to its program.

They are mentored and trained in ethical fundraising, with the society’s staff providing accountability. They raise funds for every aspirant in their class, not individuals. Once an aspirant is in formation, he or she will receive monthly payments towards his or her financial loans and receive a final payment after three years of service.

If they leave formation, they must resume their own debt payments.