Five Common Concerns or Myths about a Sister’s Life

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

My February blog mentioned some signs of God’s invitation to pursue religious life ( 2018/02/01/signs-gods- invitation-pursue-religious- life/). Though there are many signs, many young people are reluctant to enter religious life now.  Why? Some of the reasons are the fears and concerns they have about this life.  Let’s list the five out of many common concerns about this call:

  1. Self-sacrifices: I don’t want to give up my pets or house. I like to hang around with friends and shop, but being a sister may not allow me to do so.

With any life choices there are sacrifices. When you marry, you consider your family’s needs along with your own.  The same is true of religious life, but we still have friends, go on vacations, and other activities. There are sacrifices, but there are great benefits as well.  God will give you the strength to make those sacrifices with love.

  1. Prayer:  I cannot wake up early to pray. I cannot pray three or four times per day in a chapel.

I hear you. I’m not a morning person either, and I find it difficult to get up early to pray together as a community or go to mass. After a few years, I found it is the perfect way for me to begin my day – to be inspired, to be aware of the needs of our world, and feel peace before going out for work.

Not every person needs to sit in a chapel all the time in order to pray.  People can choose various places and forms for their personal prayer time, such as praying outside in the midst of the beauty of nature or listening to spiritual music.

  1. Family:I like children so I cannot be a sister. I cannot live far away from my family because I’ll miss them. I am an only child and I need to take care of my parents when they get older.  Also, they want grandchildren.

It is perfectly natural to want children. We love and like children dearly too.  You are encouraged to remain connected with your own biological family.  Some sisters can go home to take care of their parents if there is a need to do so. When you get married, you make decisions with your family. As a sister, these concerns are decided with the community.

  1. Career: I don’t want to relocate because of my stable job. I like my career, but if I became a sister, I may have to change careers.  I can be involved in many worldwide activities so I don’t need to enter religious life.

Congratulations on having a job you love.  However, becoming a sister is not just a work choice, it is a call from God.  Some congregations do require you to change careers and serve in a common ministry.  However, others allow you to use your gifts and experience in choosing a ministry. I am an engineer doing research which I love and is approved by my community.

  1. Education:I don’t like to study theology because I consider it boring. I earned a degree, which does not fit into the life of a sister.

You’d be surprised at the variety of ministries sisters do today.  We have doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, spiritual directors, engineers, artists, translators, hospice workers, and farmers.  Yes, farmers!

Each sister is encouraged to discover, develop and use the gifts God has given her to further God’s kingdom here on earth.

More concerns will be shared in my April blog. In the meantime, if you want to explore more about a sister’s life and vocation call, why not have a conversation with a sister or Vocation Minister ( who can help you clarify these concerns.  Give yourself time to love this call and give this call time to grow inside you, then you will know the meaning of “we live by faith but not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7).



Posted in God Calling?, News

Night Gives Way to Dawn

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, I was asked to contribute to an LCWR booklet, reflecting on the work of Chris Pramuk, a keynote speaker at the August Assembly last year. His address was so compelling, you might remember that we used the DVD of his presentation for reflection at last Fall’s mission group meetings.  I want to share with you now the reflection I prepared. It anticipates the Pascal Mysteries we celebrate in Holy Week and Easter.  Soon we will hear all the stories of our redemption once again.

Night Gives Way to Dawn
“To lean into the mystery of resurrection faith like the mothers [of the disappeared] do—like the women at the empty tomb—is to follow our deepest intuition, as night gives way to dawn, that life reverberates beyond death, and that love will endure beyond any earthly power to extinguish it.”
Christopher Pramuk, Night Gives Way To Dawn

After that long and horrible day, we returned home in the hope that we might comprehend what happened that Good Friday. The following day, we gathered in my kitchen to see what was needed and how we might still serve Him. We wanted something warm to eat and a cup of wine to take away a chill that had nothing to do with the weather. His mother was numb with grief and I hardly knew what to say to her.  No words could capture this devastation, as we watched her sit quietly, alone in the room. Nothing was ready for an unexpected burial, we needed time to think, reflect, and plan a funeral.

When we arrived at the tomb, the angel startled us.  She stared at us as if we should have known all along that Love will endure beyond any earthly power. As if we should have known that night gives way to dawn. Perfumes and spices we did not need and it became clear to us that love was not overpowered by hate.

His followers could hardly hear us as we tried to voice what we saw. We were speaking as if to the deaf, so deeply had their grief hardened their souls. “He lives”, the angel told us.  “He lives”, we told them all. We did not find a death. We did not find a death. We awoke to Dawn. Awoke to dawn.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Time For Action

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

The hot pink shoe laces caught my eye.  As I looked more closely, I could see the laces belonged to a pair of tennis shoes surrounded by many different pairs of shoes and placed in the lawn in front of the capital building.  What was this, I wondered?  It was one of 7,000 pairs of children’s shoes representing the children killed by gun violence since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The global advocacy group Avaaz organized the displayed called “Monument for our Children” in front of the U.S. Capital to “bring Congress face to face with the heartbreak of gun violence.”  There is no doubt that it tells a powerful story.

The immediate reaction to a horrendous shooting is to offer thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. Comfort fills an immediate need for these families who have lost a child much too young to be gone.  Sadly, prayer and words of sorrow have become hollow especially when said by our congressmen or senators because they have failed to make any substantive changes to gun laws that would prevent these types of shooting from happening again.

The silent shoe demonstration took place in the early hours the day before the student walkout all around the country. This walk out by thousands of students lasted 17 minutes for the 17 students and staff killed in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students held signs saying #enough is enough,  protect children not guns, and how many more? For them, prayers are no longer enough. Now we need action.

Let us to put continual pressure on our representatives to stand up to the NRA and pass common sense gun safety laws that will make a difference.  Every one of us can take some kind of action. Write a letter, make a call, march in the #Marchforourlives event this Saturday, March 24th.   I fear that we will again be praying for victims and families of gun violence in our schools if we fail to act on this issue while we can.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

The Coming of New Life

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Amazing! The March 1 storm had sent two heavy branches crashing down on our house causing extensive damage. Already the next day, when Sr. Barbara and I returned home after supper, we were surprised to see the place cleaned up—the fallen branches and a close-by live pine tree were reduced to a pile of sawdust, the pierced window boarded up, and protective plastic covered broken places where persistent rain might leak into the house.

The insurance adjusters along with our maintenance men thoroughly assessed the damage both exterior and interior. A few days later they presented us with a plan to repair and restore the house to its former glory or make it even better. Several improvements are planned: better drainage to prevent basement water seepage, new landscaping including adding some colorful trees, a redesigned front porch, the removal of old wiring or hiding them in encasing before re-siding and painting both interior and exterior as needed. It will be like a ‘resurrection’ and new life! But that won’t happen overnight…

Life, death, resurrection. It is a recurring pattern in nature. We can see it everywhere—after every destructive storm, in the coming of Spring, in live seeds and bulbs dying to burst forth in colorful new life, plus countless other ways.

As we have witnessed after the many wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquake disasters in the US, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other places, we know the “resurrection” does not always happen within a week!  Restoration to a former state may not come at all, but new life does surely come; and often its only when looking back that we can see it best.

Next week is Hoy Week, when Christians around the world will be focusing on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and Savior. We reverence the retelling of how the Son of God willingly let himself and his precious life be ‘handed over’ into the hands of others. He accepted death by crucifixion, and as he promised, rose to new life.  His going before us through this living mystery encourages us not to lose faith as we each undergo our own daily dyings and risings to new life. May we take heart when our ‘resurrections’ are long in coming.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Hurting Jesus?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Every Friday during Lent in my grade school years, we endured the Stations of the Cross.  We knelt for what seemed like hours, and as Father and the altar boys moved from station to station, we dutifully read from a little red-covered book imprinted on the front with a crown of thorns. At each station, there was a prayer to be read aloud by all, with slashes indicated for pauses, which detailed Jesus’ suffering at each stage of his Way of the Cross.

And so we read of Jesus’ physical agony, and ended each meditation with a sentence that went something like this, “Teach me to understand that when I sin, it hurts you more than (name suffering, such as “the nails pounded into your hands and feet.”)  I don’t know if this ever sunk in, or I ever believed my responsibility for this was concrete. Jesus wasn’t all that real in my everyday world, but something stuck–the rhythm of the common reading comes back to me, and a faint sense of the physical sufferings of Jesus in my own wiggly discomfort kneeling through the stations and then Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

An Offended God?

This attitude toward the effect of my sins on Jesus or on God still lurks around today. Parents and teachers still tell children that they are “hurting Jesus” when they do wrong, and often we feel a sort of residual guilt hearing  prophetic passages of the Hebrew Scriptures and even some of the sayings of Jesus in a “I have offended God and I will be punished—or am being punished” way. Perhaps we will never quite overcome that, for the Redemption and the Resurrection of Jesus and the vastness of God’s  energy as Love are beyond our comprehension, and we tend to ascribe our human responses to wrongdoing, and our demand for justice, as being founded in God.

The Risen Body and A New Humanity

I’m pondering two mysteries of God-in-Christ that should help us make peace with this nagging tendency. First, Jesus is Risen from the Dead and not only cannot ever die again, but suffers no more. We simply cannot “hurt” Christ Risen, although we trust his presence to us in our own trials. And the second, perhaps the deeper and more difficult mystery is this: Jesus left us his Spirit, that Divine Dynamism who is our bonding with one another, in what we call, as did Paul, the Body of Christ.

So we can and do “hurt” and neglect Jesus who dwells in and among the humans that form his Body. Incarnate among us, with a presence that transcends time and place but is also firmly rooted in the here and now, Christ continues to “home in” and offer the hope of salvation graciously and expansively through us, stretching his life and his mercy and that constant connection in the Spirit to all our brothers and sisters, and the vastness of the whole of creation.

Insofar as the Incarnation, sealed by the Resurrection, is the bond that holds us together, here and now, it is right to ponder our capacity to hurt, neglect, resent, belittle. But by grace, we are also Other Christs: Healers and Intercessors, Voices for Peace and Justice, Servants and Lights for the world. Holy Mystery.

And Holy Clarity, as Jesus firmly states in Matthew 25, ”Whatever you do to/for them, you do for me.”

Posted in News, Weekly Word