Here are a few more thoughts on the process of discernment. The following is taken from some correspondence with someone thinking about becoming a sister.
Every Order that exists was founded for a specific reason and has specific gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are called "Charisms". One of the goals of Vatican II, was to get orders to rediscover their Charism. The Charism can be their spirituality and our their mission, or both.
In my estimation, School Sisters should not run medical clinics and Nursing Sisters should not be teaching Grade Schools. I believe this solely because it is not a part of their Charism. However, if a school sister wanted to serve the poor, maybe she could teach in a poor neighbourhood; and if a nursing sister wanted to teach, maybe she could teach nursing, pharmacology, or what have you. The Trappist monasteries that ran schools now have very few monks, because that is not what Trappists are supposed to be doing. [If anyone disagrees with these statements I would not mind an open friendly dialogue with them. I will not debate you,but I will post your opinions].
I believe the orders that are dying off either have outlived their charism (eg, there is a order that was founded to rescue slaves from Barbary Pirates) or they are not living out their charism (teaching sisters that are trying to be social workers [there are, btw, sisters who specialize in social work).
If you were to become a sister or nun, would it matter where you were? I believe part of my vocation is to be in England, that is why I am over here. Some people are particular to even what neighbourhood they are in, and there are those for whom location does not matter.
Does the size of the community matter to you? Large, Small, any??? Does the wearing of the habit matter to you?
As far as apostolate with children: one can teach, one can teach children with special needs, one can teach children in abject poverty (both in the US or abroad); one can work with orphans, wards of the state, or run-aways; one can work in hospital, etc.
Remember, if it is important to you, it is important! Some times God chooses to speak to us through things that are unimportant to others.
These are my thoughts, and I speak for myself alone. I hope I speak with Christian Charity and concern.
God's Blessings to you all.
ps, there are only ten weeks until my clothing as a novice, God Willing