A nun who took a vow of poverty nearly 40 years ago says many people misunderstand what it means

NunsDan Kitwood/Getty ImagesMinimalism is catching on. Amy Hereford is not pictured.

Nearly 40 years ago, Amy Hereford took a vow of poverty.

She lives in an ecovillage outside of St. Louis, Missouri, along with four other women, where it costs her about $US100 to garden and to eat for a month, and where possessions like her computer are “for her use” — but not hers.

It’s all part of being a nun.

Hereford, a Sister of St. Joseph, explained to Wealthsimple what it means to take a modern-day vow of poverty.

She said it isn’t exactly like people may think. It’s not so much scraping by as it is living communally. “I’m a simplicity freak,” she said. “I don’t need or want a lot of stuff.”

In her day-to-day life, she:

  • Works as a lawyer and is paid, but gives that money to the church and the community
  • Gardens, and grows food for the community
  • Uses any personal money for “books or movies or chocolate”
  • Submits budgets to the church for things like a guitar or expensive plants, like blueberries and blackberries

She told Wealthsimple that generally, she loves not having to worry about what she’ll eat or what she’ll wear. Her only concern is retirement. Communities like hers, rather like the populations of some countries, are becoming top-heavy, with more older members dependent on the earnings of younger workers than there are younger people to earn. “You can think you’ve got that nest egg tucked away, and then something happens in the market and it’s, like, whoops!” she said.

“I sense more and more interest from laypeople in our way of life,” she said. “Sometimes when I look at how much stuff people have, and the worry over holding on to it and being able to afford more stuff, I think, ‘Oh my gosh, life could be so much simpler!'”

Read the full interview at Wealthsimple »

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