The two disciples followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day. (Jn 1:37-39)
I attended my first Come and See discernment retreat when I was 24 years old. I was terrified and excited at the same time. It was a beautiful fall day and as I drove to Pennsylvania, questions and concerns swirled in my mind and heart. What would it be like? Who else would be there? Do I have what it takes to be a sister? I arrived at the Motherhouse and was greeted by several novices who had been charged with getting us settled. Their joy and laughter settled my nerves and I finally took a deep breath and relaxed.
It was a transformational time for me, and one of great blessing. I remember sitting in the chapel late one evening and seeing the fireflies outside floating about the lawn. Deer were grazing on the hillside and munching on acorns as the sun moved lower in the sky. The smell of candles, incense, furniture polish and paint from a recently completed mural were also present. A deep sense of God’s presence was with me and for the first time I truly opened my heart to believing that God was calling me to religious life. It just seemed right. I sat there and prayed for over an hour. When I left the chapel, I knew that whatever happened, God was leading me. I just needed to remember to follow and to trust.
Fast forward to 2019 and here I am on the other side of the equation. I am on the Vocations team and we are preparing for our Come and See retreat this weekend at our Motherhouse in Kentucky. It has been a few years since that first Come and See retreat and I am celebrating my 25th Jubilee this year. With a bit more of life lived and religious life embraced, I would like to share the answers to the questions that plagued me on that drive to my first retreat so long ago.
So, here it goes:
1. What will it be like?
It will be a program designed with you in mind. The retreat will include presentations by sisters on discernment, the vows, life in community and the history and charism of our Dominican Order and Congregation. Each day will begin and end with prayer in common. You will have time for private prayer & reflection, group conversations, fun, good food and even a hayride on our farm. You may even see some fireflies.
2. Who else will be there?
Other women of faith, like yourself, who have heard God calling them to something more – who are exploring religious life. Some are in their first years of college and others have graduated long ago and are involved in professional careers. They are accountants, doctors, nurses, social workers and pastoral ministers. Along with the retreatants, there will be sisters who will serve as speakers, spiritual companions, prayer leaders and tour guides. Of course, God will be present in a special way to you.
3. Do I have what it takes to be a sister?
Well, I cannot answer that one but I do know that each of us is a child of God – and have been called to something special from the moment of our conception, which was sealed in the waters of baptism. God loves you and calls you by name. I invite you to respond in faith and trust. The answer will be revealed.
We are preparing to welcome 13 women for this Come and See retreat. They are coming from around the country as are the Vocations team who will accompany them. Please keep us all in prayer.
If you are feeling that God is calling you to something more, take courage and contact one of us here. Blessings and much peace, Sister June