It’s a little easier than it sounds! Why don’t we rephrase your question and say, “It dawned on me to look into marriage. How would I start finding out about guys, choosing one, and discovering if he’s the right one?”
Not too scary, right? It’s sort of like finding guys: You need to look in the right places. Now there are lots of places where women consecrated to God live, and lots of ways they serve, so the adventure begins as soon as you start exploring. But first you need to know if that “dawning” you mention is truly from the Holy Spirit.
That’s because if this call that’s in your heart is authentically from God, he has a place for you somewhere. What can take a little while is discovering if the call is truly from him, or if it’s your heart is simply a very generous one looking for ways to express its love.
If there’s a seed of a vocation growing there, you need to give it the right things it needs in order to grow: contact with God in prayer, contact with God through his sacraments, spiritual direction with someone who can guide you, and some form of service/ministry/apostolate/outreach. If that seed is there, it’ll grow, and grow stronger. If it’s merely a passing fancy, you’ll find out; but at the same time God will definitely reward that generosity of yours with greater clarity about where he wants you.
Every community of nuns or consecrated women will have a particular lifestyle and a particular community spirit, so enjoy researching! Your diocese’s vocations office can tell you about communities near where you live, or you can check out the wonderful collections of images and info published here on Tumblr by jesucaritas, verbumcarofactumest, shortbreadsh, and ubicaritasandafuturenun.
Next step? It’ll come in good time.
God bless you and I’ll pray for you!
- Father Shane