Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sr. Juliann Babcock's Vocation Story

Religious life has been a part of my entire life. I was born and lived in Indianapolis. My parents were very devoted Catholics who lived a very faith-filled life until their death. My brother, sister and I received a Catholic education and learned at a very early age what it meant to serve our parish, what it meant to reach out to our neighbors, and what it meant to love and care for our family. These values formed my religious life as a child. I am so grateful!

I have an aunt who is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Dubuque, Iowa. Her visits to our home and our visits to her convent helped me know more about the life of a sister even before I ever thought about entering religious life. Some of my fondest memories are the many New Year’s Eve parties she spent with us while my parents went out to celebrate with friends. My father also had a cousin who was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY. Her visits were also wonderful as I would listen to her stories about her classroom experiences. Little did I know then of their influence on my life.

When I was in junior high my mother told me that she wanted my sister and I to attend the new high school that was recently built in Beech Grove. It was started by the Sisters of St. Benedict, whom I knew nothing about. My mother said that Benedictines were great educators and she wanted us to attend an all girls high school as she had done. My brother also attended Cathedral High School as my father had done. They liked traditions!

During my four years at Our Lady of Grace Academy, I got to know many of the sisters and found myself noticing how much they cared for each other and how hospitable they were to the students and their parents. As a senior, I was editor of the school newspaper which meant I spent a lot of extra hours after school and on weekends in the Academy’s newspaper room. Those times were especially important as I look back on them. Often the sisters would stop in to offer support or to chat and I found myself becoming more attracted to their life during that year. I now know that God was inviting me to become a Benedictine through the example of these sisters. It was a huge decision since I really wanted to go to college with my friends. I had been accepted at Marian College in Indianapolis and at Clark College in Dubuque. The final months of high school were very difficult as I struggled with this decision. It was after a conversation with our principal, Sister Louise, that I knew I had to follow the voice in my heart and see if Benedictine life was where God was leading me.

In 1966, I entered the community. All these years have only confirmed that voice in my heart that God was indeed calling me to this way of life. The years have been filled with joy and sorrow as is every path of life. I do know that each of my experiences have been blessed with the grace and love of God, the support and love of my community and the presence and love of my family.

During these past years I have enjoyed many different ministries. I taught elementary school for 10 years, worked at the Benedict Inn for seven years, served our community as vocation director for four years and as subprioress for eight years. Presently, I am the formation director for our sisters during their beginning years of monastic life.

It is a challenge to live Benedictine values in today’s culture. Our monastic promises of stability in this monastery, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience which includes simplicity and celibacy, are counter cultural in many ways. I believe they are promises that witness to our world’s desire for meaning, for community and for God.

I love monastic life and I love being a part of this community at Beech Grove. We are women on our journey to God. St. Benedict tells us to “Run while you have the light of life so that the darkness of death may not overtake you.” (Rule of St. Benedict; Prologue)  I know I can only do this with others to guide and support me. That’s my community!


Heather said...

Sr. Nicolette,
Thank you so much for having the sister's share their vocations stories. I am throughly enjoying learning how everyone came to Our Lady of Grace and this wonderful benedictine community (I look forward to getting to work and checking the blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I know I am a dork!). I really liked how Sr. Juliann descibed community life. "We are women on our journey to God together." Beautiful! Thank you for all your hard work. You are a blessing to me and to many.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your vocation story Sr. Juliann. I find all the Sisters' journey very inspiring. I look forward to reading more stories on future posts. You are a blessing to our world.