Have you ever experienced heaven on earth? Sometimes it’s in a little white host, sometimes it’s in the face of the homeless man on the street, sometimes it’s in a young child’s smile. For our UT students this week, heaven was in a blue and white habit.
The first time I heard about the Sisters of Life it was through this MTV feature story. Awesome, huh? Then, a couple of my friends from college went to visit the order in New York City and discern with them. And when I became a FOCUS missionary, we were delighted to have a couple of sisters stay with us for several weeks during our summer training. I’ll always remember how the sisters played soccer and volleyball in their habits, in the 90 degree heat, with such joy.
When my teammate Sam told me that Sr. Antoniana, Sr. Bethany and Sr. Benedicta were passing through Austin on a tour of Texas campuses, I knew that students had to meet these lovely women. And not only did our Catholic students need to meet them, the UT campus needed to experience them as well. So, we organized a picnic after Daily Mass outside of our Student Activities Center (pictured below).
As they stepped into our Catholic student center, the students buzzed with excitement to finally meet the sisters they had heard so much about. Their witness sitting in Mass was stirring, and as we walked across campus, I couldn’t help but love the curious looks we got from students. We gathered in a shady area outside one of the busiest buildings on campus and listened to the sisters tell us about their apostolate and every day life.
If you don’t know much about the Sisters of Life, their charism is “to lay down their lives that others may live.” They provide assistance to pregnant women, invite those who have suffered abortion into healing and educate on the dignity of human life. Sr. Benedicta commented on their most frequently asked question: “A lot of people ask us if we hold a lot of babies. But we want mothers to hold the babies. And we hold the mothers.”
I’m always amazed with what gentleness and sincerity they speak of their guests and the young people with which they work. John Cardinal O’Connor, the founder of the Sisters of Life, said the image of the Visitation is the very image of the sisters. They, bearing Christ within them, bring the light of life to expecting mothers, that the babies may leap with joy as did John the Baptist.
These women are great defenders of life, and we can all learn from them. As we begin our 40 Days of Prayer for Unity of All Women, Born and Unborn, let’s be sure to pray for their apostolate and the growth and health of their order. Let us pray and defend life unceasingly and without reserve.