Sometimes a chance meeting makes a lifelong difference. As a college student Sister Liz McGill, I.H.M. heard a sister give a talk. “I really could not believe she was a nun,” she told The Wood Word. McGill’s notion of who nuns are got blown up at that talk, leading her to take more seriously some inner nudges she had already experienced. Today, after earning her doctorate and serving as an assistant professor of family medicine, McGill has stepped back from teaching and coaching women’s soccer to immerse herself in becoming an I.H.M. sister.
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Don’t see yourself becoming a religious sister? Think again.
“Celebrity” and “nun” don’t often go together, but Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J. has gained international attention for leading efforts to tend to the many migrants who pass through the U.S.-Mexico border.
As a young girl Sister Chioma Ahanihu, S.L.W. wanted to see the world while helping the poor. Since she was raised in a devout Nigerian Catholic family, by the time she was a young woman she had connected that dream to sisterhood. Fast forward through plenty of discernment and a few life changes, and now Ahanihu has brought her passion for service to her work as a therapist and her membership in the Sisters of the Living Word in Chicago.
When I was a novice I was intensely learning our values of communal and private prayer, work, study, leisure, and hospitality. Today, I'm trying to take what I have learned and actually apply it to real life.
As my life shifts and takes new turns, I continue to grow in my experience and understanding of the vows that will anchor my life: poverty, chastity, and obedience.
I had succeeded in athletics and my career, and I had never lacked materially. But all of that paled to insignificance after being at the Queen of Angels Monastery.
The past 30 years have been a wild ride—one I would not have missed for the world.
“Are people worth more than the worst thing they have done?” This is what Sr. Helen Prejean of the Congregation of St. Joseph challenged students at the University of Michigan to ponder while speaking on campus in November about her calling to advocate against the death penalty.
When you're on a life adventure, you never know what's awaiting you around the next bend. "My life has gotten larger, yet more intimate."
Whatever Sister Jamie Phelps, O.P. “gave up" to become a religious sister, has “come back a hundredfold," says the educator, psychiatric social worker, community organizer, liturgist, choir director, spiritual director, and theologian.
There is something about the communal effort to serve others while living simply and without a mate that makes religious life a sign of hope, even to people who are not Catholic.
I realized that volunteering for a few years in church service was not enough. God was asking me to radically give over my life.
Sister Graciela Colon, S.C.C. loves to Rollerblade, especially downhill at high speed. Maybe that’s what it felt like when she first thought of abandoning her careful plans for life. They involved a successful legal career, a husband, and a family in Brooklyn. An active Catholic with a law degree freshly under her belt, she spent three weeks with Mother Teresa’s sisters in Calcutta where “I was inspired by their total self-giving,” she says. Upon her return she looked seriously at religious life. Today Sister Graciela is preparing for full membership with the Sisters of Christian Charity and providing legal help at an immigrant resource center.
Sister Boram Lee started out with a bright career in broadcasting, but direction from God led her to religious life.
Starting life as a Catholic sister is a big change: for the newly minted sister and her family too! When Angelique Joy Marcantel entered religious life, her family saw her off with a mix of emotions and camera in hand.
God’s call can be slow and quiet; and it can be strong and sudden. After some subtle clues that a religious community might be the place for her, Sister Christina Cńe Chavez, C.D.P. was at her grandmother’s funeral when she felt a strong message to devote herself to Christ. Soon after, she picked up her phone and Googled “How do you become a nun?” and the VISION Vocation Match website popped up. That began an earnest journey that eventually brought her to the door of the Congregation of Divine Providence in her home state of Texas.
Many poor children in Querétaro, Mexico struggle to go to school. Thanks to the Sisters of Divine Providence, school comes to them.
Everyone knows “Sister T,” who high-fives her way down the streets of Queens, New York. She has helped thousands of women inmates and their kids get through prison terms and rebuild their lives.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, S.S.H.J. is helping to create a future for victims of civil war with care, compassion—and sewing machines.
The bold step of becoming a nun is nourished by tradition, ritual, symbols—and hugs.
Xiomara Méndez-Hernández grew up in a large, close family and had no intention of joining a religious community. She had a talent for fashion design and launched a career in that field. But after meeting the Adrian Dominican Sisters, she couldn’t shake the thought of living as they did. “It took me 13 years to listen to that voice in my heart,” she says. “It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did!”
For two Bernardine Franciscan sisters, vocation has led to a long, rich life of service and prayer.
The daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Sister Maria Kim-Ngân Bùi, F.S.P. grew up in Tempe, Arizona with plans for a career, children, and plenty of family nearby. “I dreamed of my siblings and cousins purchasing homes in a cul-de-sac so all the children could play in the center.” She met a Daughter of St. Paul through her parish, and as her faith grew, so did her call to religious life. Many people, she says, “have continued to inspire and enflame my love for the Lord.”
How living as a sister—instead of a committed single person—helps one young woman be her best self.
If you think being a sister is only for people who are always proper, serious types, think again. Felician Franciscan Sister Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay, C.S.S.F. enjoys dancing, saving earthworms, and telling about the time she got her whole 12th-grade religion class to stage a practical joke. At the same time Sister Desiré is quick to reveal her passion for the mission and the camaraderie she has found in religious life.
Nothing gets the two founders of aNunsLife.org excited like helping people figure out what God might be calling them to do with their lives.
After being “put on hold” by God when praying about her vocation, a little bell finally went off to point the way.
Sister Guerline Joseph grew up in a devout family of Haitian immigrants. She dreamt of being a flight attendant or maybe a professional athlete, but at the same time Feed the Children TV commercials made her heart yearn to help others. She donated enough to regularly hang photos of “her kids” on the family refrigerator. Then one day she met the Salesian Sisters through their youth ministry and her journey into religious life began.
Joining a religious community’s lay organization led unexpectedly to consecrated life for Sister Nicole Trahan, F.M.I.
A volunteer in Africa found that in a time of great uncertainty, God’s call became crystal clear.
My choice to enter religious life was not only about ministry or being part of a group, but more about a conversion to thinking about things differently, to throwing whatever gifts I may have into the ring to help foster the reign of God.
When I met with my spiritual director after a retreat, I told him I believed I was being called to religious life. He said, “What took you so long?
When she was young, Bridget Bearss wanted to change the world through education. As a sister, she’s found a way to do it.
Entering the door of religious life led this Sister of Mercy to the fulfillment of her dreams, and beyond.
Religious sisters, at their best, were never meant simply to be a labor force in the church but spiritually grounded women who respond vigorously to the needs of our time.
What drew me, a 30-something high school teacher, to monastic life? From my first visit to the monastery in Virginia, I felt a tug on my heart. Each time I returned, I could feel myself falling more deeply in love with the life
Sister Dorothy Stang, an advocate for the peasant farmers in the rainforests of Brazil, made powerful enemies who eventually gunned her down as she read from scripture.
An inside look to following life of Brenda Velasco as she enters into life with the Sisters of Providence
Ten years ago, I was a happy little New Ager. I had my crystals and a psychic. Now I am teaching religion to elementary school students. What happened? It’s a long story . . .
I had to ask myself: At the end of my life, what would be the one thing I regretted not trying? So here I am living with about 230 sisters and basking in an incredibly passionate relationship with God
Sharing and openness with the other sisters is built up little by little. In community we are not necessarily living with our best friends, so it takes time and a sense of growing in trust to share faith this deeply.
A persistent yet gentle voice began to ask questions and offer a way of life that was previously anathema to me and all my plans for the future. I had a sense of Christ inviting me to something more.
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The unique call to sisterhood draws a wide array of followers.
“You have to be strong in your identity—who you are and whose you are,” says Sister Patricia Ralph, S.S.J., and “not allow anyone to take your dream away.”
For Sister Lee Ann McNally, R.S.M., ministering to prisoners started as a new adventure, but it was also an extension of the work she is sure God had in mind for her right from the start.
The Oblate Sisters of Providence want the world to feel the touch of God’s love, and they’re working on it one child at a time.
As a child Sister Julie Vieira chose Saint Teresa of Avila as a confirmation name and pretty much forgot about her. But over the years Teresa remained with this I.H.M. sister, waiting for Sister Julie to come by her convent cell and chat awhile.