It is once again time to meet and get to know a consecrated religious for this Year of Consecrated Life that we are still in. Today’s interview is with Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, T.O.R. She also got one of her fellow sisters in her community involved int he interview, so for a couple questions we’ll also get to meet Sr. Elizabeth Buessink, T.O.R., Vocations Coordinator. The questions are marked so you know who is answering which ones. This is another interesting and inspiring interview, and I love the pictures Sr. Mary Rose sent me. There is a peacefulness that comes out in the interview and in the pictures. I hope you feel it too as you read on below.
What is your name?
Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, T.O.R., Mission Advancement Director
What is the name of your order and what is your order’s particular charism?
Franciscan Sisters, Third Order Regular (T.O.R.) of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother. Our charisms include daily contemplation of Christ’s crucified love, receiving His divine mercy, and with Mary our Mother, seeking to become vessels of Christ’s merciful love for others. We embrace the Franciscan values and lifestyle of poverty and minority within a supportive sisterhood, seeking to be humble handmaids of God our loving Father. We celebrate Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours daily, as well as daily Eucharistic adoration, where we intercede for the world so that all may be reconciled and brought into living communion with God now and forever in heaven.
How did you know God was calling you to this life? By Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, T.O.R., Mission Advancement Director
I learned about our Community the year that it began in 1988, while I was a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio. Some of the community’s founding members were my college classmates. I observed them get started, and inquired about the community’s charisms and mission. They explained it was a blending of both the contemplative and active life, including significant time for Eucharistic Adoration, silent and contemplative prayer, as well as various works of evangelization and service to the poor, the elderly, on college campuses, and in parishes. It included frequent praise and worship and openness to all the charisms of the Holy Spirit, and would blend both the traditional and the charismatic dimensions of the church’s life, including wearing a religious garb or habit and liturgical prayer of the Divine Office in common. I knew this way of life would be a good fit for me, as God had been inspiring me to seek to live this way for several years prior. For several years already I felt an attraction to the spirituality of St. Francis and a desire to follow his example of radical love for God. I realized, like St. Francis did, that it can be a radical turning away from sin and selfishness to choose to embrace a life of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of God, poverty in imitation of Christ, and to live simply without accumulating goods so that one’s main focus can be to use one’s time and resources to serve the poor and do spiritual and corporal works of mercy. I began to understand what a gift it is to be called by God to live in intimate union with Him as a religious sister, and that by obedience to a Franciscan Rule of Life, I would be able to safeguard a prayer life, and would have freedom from being ambushed by my own preferences, as well as to gain assurance of doing God’s will rather than my own.
Tell us a bit about what your day-to-day life is like. by Sr. Elizabeth Buessink, T.O.R., Vocations Coordinator
Our daily routine includes prayer, work, and ministry. We rise at 5:00am and begin our day giving the Lord our “first fruits” in an hour of silent Eucharistic adoration followed by Morning Prayer from the Divine Office. Directly after our morning prayers we celebrate Mass as a community. Following Mass is time for extended prayer and silence as well as an informal breakfast. At 9am we begin our work or ministry. Some sisters will head to our ministries in the Downtown Steubenville area to work with the poor, others will head to their offices on campuses to work with the students, others will go to their offices at the Motherhouse to serve the community. At noon, we stop our work and ministry to gather for prayer which usually consists of a time of praise and worship with intercessions and a rosary or Station of the Cross, followed by lunch. After lunch we return to our various work assignments or ministries. We come back together at 5pm for our second Eucharistic Holy Hour of the day and Evening Prayer from the Divine Office and a Mercy Chaplet. After our evening time of prayer we eat dinner together. The evenings consist of a variety of things for us. Some evenings we have recreation together, other evenings we have share groups which is a time of sharing more deeply with a smaller group of sisters, sometimes we return to our work or ministries. We then gather at 8:30pm for Night Prayer and head off to bed just to get up and do it all again the next morning!
What advice would you give to someone considering a consecrated religious life? by Sr. Elizabeth Buessink, T.O.R., Vocations Coordinator
To include in your daily routine some time for prayer and silence. It is in those times when we are not “busy” praying a rosary or journaling that we are able to rest in the Lord’s love and hear His voice most clearly. Lectio Divina is a great way to immerse yourself in Scripture and sit with the Word, letting it penetrate the heart. Silence in prayer and in daily life is very important because it is in those moments that you will come to discover the deepest desires of your heart. Those desires will always be connected to your vocation and call in life. Another piece of advice is to research communities and visit them. Much can be gained from visiting a religious community, praying with them, eating with them, recreating and working with them. And a final piece of advice is to relax! God is not out to make you do something you do not want to do nor is He out to hide your vocation from you. Trust in His perfect timing!
What does it mean to you that Pope Francis has dedicated this year (Nov. 30, 2014-February 2, 2016) as a Year of Consecrated Life? By Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, T.O.R., Mission Advancement Director
We are grateful for Pope Francis’ effort to highlight the beauty and importance of the gift of Consecrated Life in the Church during this year and the special role of the family in aiding growth in holiness. The Pope’s initiative has helped Catholic families and individuals to become more aware of praying for and fostering religious vocation within their families, as well as to understand more deeply the family’s vital role in nurturing holiness, and seeking God’s will for our lives, which is to discover our truest self by God’s design.
What is your favorite thing to do during your down time/recreation time? By Sr. Mary Rose Bratlien, T.O.R., Mission Advancement Director
For recreation, I enjoy spending time with my Sisters playing various games or doing activities together such as enjoying the beauty of nature or tending to the animals on our ‘farm’ property. I also love being alone with God, playing and writing music, and learning new praise music in order to praise our awesome God.
Find out more about the sisters on their website: Franciscan Sisters, Third Order Regular, of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, and on Facebook.