Living for something bigger than self
NEW HAVEN, CT – Ellen Coates has traveled the globe, working to end polio and other childhood diseases with organizations such as UNICEF. Her international experience took an unexpected turn when she realized that God was calling her to change course and become a Catholic Sister.
A public health professional with 20 years experie
nce in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Coates of Winchester, MA, took the first steps to become a Dominican Sister of Peace on Sunday, February 19, when she began a candidacy program at the chapel of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT.
“The desire to serve God had a lot to do with the public health career I chose,” Coates said. “I am becoming a Sister because I want to know God better with other women who are living God’s Word and trying to do the right thing in the world.”
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Coates first met the Dominican Sisters of Peace at Dominican Retreat in McLean, VA, at her mother’s recommendation; both attended several of the silent retreats for women there. Then, in 2013, Coates spoke with Sr. Agnes Bernadette Gott, OP, after she felt God was calling her to religious life. After that, the journey became more serious as she began to formally discern.
“I could grow closer to God in private prayer,” Coates said. “However, I would not get to know God better. I want to know why I am here in the world and to be an example to others. This means living not for yourself but for something bigger. The religious component was limited in my life and being an example of this dimension is more clearly saying I am not the most important thing here.”
As she discerns, Coates will continue to work as an independent consultant, completing her obligations with a World Health Organization (WHO) UNICEF polio outbreak response team that is supporting polio eradication efforts in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao). Coates has worked as consultant in India for WHO and with US-based nonprofits focusing on international child health. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Boston University. Once that obligation has been fulfilled, however, she will seek employment in New Haven in order to focus more time on living with the Sisters at the House of Welcome there and discerning God’s call.