My journey to the monastery began in a Catholic home with a mom, dad, and 4 siblings. From the age of six, I wanted to be a sister. Actually, I wanted to teach and I thought that nun and teacher were synonymous. There was no sense of call, as I can now articulate it. There was no sense that such a lifestyle choice was not the norm. There wasn’t even much sense of God in the picture, except that I knew the nuns carried rosaries and prayed a lot. Still, I guess God has to start somewhere!
I attended a Franciscan College on a scholarship and was soon going to morning and evening prayer with the college community. A friendship with two Sisters in my class led to my spending many evenings at their home… so many, in fact, that I had a bedroom, a household task, and a night to lead prayer! I began to meet weekly with their vocation director. Two years after graduation, I asked to begin entrance procedures, but was told that I did not have a Franciscan vocation. I now know that to be true, but at the time I was devastated and confused.
My family had relocated to Texas while I was in college, so I headed south and found employment at a school and parish run by the Marianist brothers and priests. I soon discovered that there were Marianist sisters, too, and I quickly became involved in many of their ministries. I was attracted to their charism, but hesitant to risk being hurt again. Fortunately, God was anything but hesitant and just two short years later, I entered the postulancy.
My Marianist journey actually led me to Beech Grove. I attended a creation spirituality retreat in the summer of 1989, in preparation for first vows. I remember Sr. Mildred talking about the “via negativa” and Sr. Juliann leading us in an art meditation. The next summer I returned for a private retreat, which Sr. Juliann directed.
My Marianist journey ended in 1994, as it was discerned that I was not called to the apostolic life. I was ready to write God off, convinced like Jeremiah, that God had “duped me”. Jesse and John, two of the Marianist men with whom I had shared the journey through initial formation, encouraged (coerced?) me to look for a different community. Just to stop their nagging, I wrote to the only place that I had ever really felt at home… Beech Grove
By June I was on a vocation retreat and by July I was ready to sign up. Actually, I was petrified to try religious life again, but felt almost powerless to do otherwise. I lived in Baltimore at the time, so visiting took a lot of effort. I returned as often as possible, and even had my parents spend the Triduum with the community just before I entered. They were “sold” on the community when they watched one of our older sisters escorted to venerate the cross by a barely younger sister on Good Friday.
September of 2000 I moved into Our Lady of Grace and it has become more and more home for me as I become more and more at home with myself.
Everything I imagined religious life to be is here… with a few more kinks and challenges than I had anticipated, but also with an abundance of blessings. What attracted me here, what keeps me here, is our rhythm of prayer and the value we place on seeking God TOGETHER. I treasure making this journey with my sisters, especially as I continue to glean the wisdom of the elders in this community. I may be 50 years old, but I am yet a youngster in this monastic life and it’s a joy to “sit at the feet” of those whose knowledge comes from experience. God has formed within me a monastic heart and entrusted me to guard it carefully. I look forward to days and months and years of journeying as a Benedictine Sister!