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World Day for Consecrated Life: A Fitting End to the Year of Consecrated Life

Since 1997, the Church has celebrated the vocations of men and women religious with a special day of prayer. This World Day for Consecrated Life also coincides with the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 each year. This year it also marks the conclusion to the Year of Consecrated Life. If you’re a regular follower of Catholic Sistas you may have noticed our special series over the past year to recognize and honor men and women religious. As we conclude this year, I thought today was an appropriate time to recap these eleven interviews.

Presentation of the Lord, Hans Holbein the Elder

Presentation of the Lord, Hans Holbein the Elder

Before we get into that that, I urge you to please take a moment today to pray for all those who are living the vocation of consecrated life, for all those discerning a call to consecrated life, and for those who are being called to consecrated life to have the courage to hear and answer that call. The USCCB has provided a prayer for the faithful to use on this special day. Find it HERE.

Between February 2015 and December 2015, I had the privilege of communicating with eleven different people who are living the consecrated life. I enjoyed this project and really enjoyed learning more about these lovely people. If you haven’t seen the interviews, I encourage you to check out the links below and read their stories. It was inspiring to learn how these women, and one man, heard their calling, what they enjoy most about their vocations, and to learn about their everyday life. There are take-aways here even for those of us who are married and raising children, for example, structuring your days with prayer, finding joy in your work, looking for God in all those you encounter, serving others. There is a lot to glean from the ten sisters and one monk/priest that I interviewed.

I also want to mention the importance of the family to religious vocations. Religious vocations start in the family, in our very own domestic churches. If you are raising a family, don’t forget how important it is to be an example of the Church for your children. Make sure they know about religious vocations and how special they are to God. And, encourage your children to pray for vocations to both the priesthood and to religious life. There is plenty of inspiration in these interviews.

Interview graphicIn February 2015, I spoke with Sr. Anne Joan, FSP. I loved her story of how she heard her calling to join her order, proof that the Holy Spirit knows us well and will use others to get to us.

Sr. Georgette Andrade, SSC, was next up in March. I know Sr. Georgette personally and I knew her story would be a good one. For those who may wonder about a vocation late in life, definitely check out what Sr. Georgette has to say and then look up her order.

In April we took a slightly different turn and interviewed a woman living as a consecrated virgin. Bernadette Snyder is a member of the Order of Consecrated Virgins. It’s a very unique calling and very interesting. Click through to learn more about Bernadette and her decision to take on this vocation.

Sr. Constance of the Little Sisters of the Poor agreed to an interview which we shared here in May 2015. Her answer to my question regarding what it meant to her that Pope Francis called this special Year of Consecrated Life was one of my favorites. It really spoke to me (because I’m always that “busy” person). I need to go back and read her words about once a month, or possibly more often!

Next up was Sr. Marie-Aimee, OCD. She is a member of an active Carmelite order (most Carmelites are contemplatives) and she is one of the younger voices in our list of interviews. Her story of repeatedly saying she wasn’t discerning a vocation to eventually being led to accepting it is a great one. I also loved how she described God’s call as more of an experience than “just knowing” you have a call. Follow that link to read more, it’s worth it.

Putting in some manual labor for the community.

Putting in some manual labor for the community (Sr. Patricia Cushing, SJW).

In July we had a lovely interview with Sr. Patricia Cushing, SJW. She has a great story about finding the order she is now a part of (definitely an act of God) and the story she shares about the founding of her order (in 1974, so pretty young in the eyes of the Church) is an interesting one.

Up until this point all my interviews were with women in religious orders that had active apostolates (meaning, out in the world teaching or nursing or working in communications, etc.). In August I was able to secure an interview with Sr. Joseph Marie, OP, who is part of a cloistered Dominican order. Personally, I enjoyed reading her description of their day-to-day life in the convent. It’s actually quite full, just in case you were wondering.

My first and only interview with a man in religious life was with Fr. Meinrad Brune, OSB. Fr. Meinrad is a Benedictine monk and a priest for his order. He’s also my oblate director, so I was already acquainted with him and pleased he agreed to this interview.

This past October I posted my interview with Sr. Mary Beth, SDSH. Sr. Mary Beth currently lives and works in Taiwan. Her story reflects how important the support of family and friends are for those who might have a call to a religious vocation. I hope you enjoy her story.

Sr. Mary Rose looking out at the monastery

Sr. Mary Rose looking out at the monastery

The November interview was with Sr. Mary Rose, TOR, with a little help from the community’s vocations coordinator, Sr. Elizabeth, TOR. Sr. Mary Rose and Sr. Elizabeth probably represent one of the youngest communities on my list, having been founded in 1988. She describes the charism of the community as being a blending of the the contemplative and the active life. Sounds fascinating and the pictures she supplied are beautiful.

Finally, the last interview got published in December with Sr. Maria Gemma, OP. I loved reading through her responses to the questions and learning more about her background and how she came to find a home in religious life. Another must read!

I think many people, especially those of us who grew up with limited contact with religious (or none at all–that would be me), have a pretty narrow view of what life must be like as a nun, sister, or brother/monk. But as these eleven interviews show, there is a lot of variety in the religious life and a great diversity of people enter it. If you know someone who is contemplating a religious vocation or if you know someone who you think might have a calling to a religious vocation, tell them. And then pray for them. And maybe also show them this list so they can see the great variety that is out there.

I hope our readers here at Catholic Sistas enjoyed these interviews. I certainly enjoyed doing them (even when I was worried month after month that I wouldn’t get an interview back in time, it always worked out!!). Please continue to pray for vocations. Our beautiful Mother Church needs faithful, committed young men and women to not only answer the call to the priesthood (for those young men), but also to religious life. And if you know someone in religious life, be sure to thank them at the next opportunity you have for devoting their life in service to the Church and God.

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About Kerri Baunach

Kerri Baunach is a Catholic wife and mother of three boys (plus three in heaven). She and her family live in beautiful central Kentucky where she is active in her church, a member of Cursillo, and a Benedictine Oblate. Kerri often writes on her Catholic faith, pregnancy loss, her kids, and pro-life issues. Kerri is a former music librarian (16 years) now stay-at-home mom, was a musician for over 20 years, loves taking her kids to the library (and loves that they love it), is passionately pro-life, can’t cook, and has lived in six states. In additional to writing at Catholic Sistas you can also find Kerri on her own blog at Journal of a Nobody.