Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were invited to respond to questions about vocations to the consecrated life from young people of the Antigo Area Catholic Parishes. Sister Annette Kurey, Sister Laura Wolf, Sister Cecilia Joy Kugel and Postulant Katie Logan’s comments follow below. Watch for Part Two of this series.
How did you know this was what God wanted you to do?
Sister Annette: I knew this was God’s desire for me. I could not have planned this on my own! Where did the thought come from? I didn’t know anyone who was a Sister or Priest, why should I even think this? I wanted to fall in love (of course it was an idea dream, total love and no challenges!), move to TX and raise horses! Really, now where did that come from?
Sister Cecilia Joy: We can never be 100% sure of our vocation when we first begin, but there are little nudges that seem to guide us in one direction. I joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity because everything seemed to fall into place and make sense. I felt a sense of home with the sisters and like I could truly be myself.
Sister Laura: I was introduced to the idea of becoming a Sister by my 7th Grade teacher. She recommended to us to say three Hail Marys every day that the Lord would show us what He wanted us to do to serve Him. She also instilled in me the idea that being a Sister was a good thing for me. She then encouraged me to go to High School at Holy Family Academy, a boarding school run by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. I talked to my parents about it and they let me enroll. For four years I lived at the Boarding School, was taught by the Sisters, made friends with my classmates and learned about how the Sisters lived. After graduating from High School, I just continued to stay at the Academy and continue to learn about the life and the way of the Sisters. After a few years I was ready to say this is what the Lord wants for me. It took time, patience and a lot of prayer!
Postulant Katie: I would like to say that the clouds opened and God spoke to me directly and told me to become a Religious Sister with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. That way may be reserved for a select few but I feel as I am in the category of most. Meaning that it was a gradual process. Jesus ultimately reached me in Adoration after many years of preparing me in various ways so that I would be ready to receive a call. He gave me a message and placed it deep in my heart. With support of my pastor, several priests, spiritual director, and parish community I prayed and took steps. There is a point when you have to make a choice or you risk discernment becoming a “vocation”. The gift of finding a community, being accepted, and entering is that you then have the chance to truly discern the life. There is only so much you can understand from the outside looking in with visits here and there. But it is once you step through the door that you are then in the formation setting to have the opportunity to discern without so much of the worldly distractions and noise. And the reason that formation is 6-9years (varies with communities) is because it is not a rush but a process. And through each step you grow closer to Christ to hear what He is saying to you and your community about your vocational call. As I prepare to enter my second year with the FSCC, first year of Novitiate, I walk forward with an openness of what is to come.
Are there “schools” to learn how to be a Nun? If so, how much time does it take to go through a school?
Sister Cecilia Joy: There aren’t “schools” per say, but there is definitely a time of development and learning. We have what we call “Instructions” as sisters that teach us about community history, the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and living in community.
Sister Laura: There is no school to learn how to be a Nun per se but if you express an interest in being a Sister you are invited to come and live with us and explore what the life is about. This time is call the Postulancy. After about a year you are invited to join the Novitiate and actually live the life just like all the rest of the Sisters. You learn about our rules, our history, our Traditions, our place in the Church and how to pray. We also look to see what kind of work we are called to do for the Church (teaching, nursing, parish work or whatever will best use out talents) This phase takes about two more years. Then we commit to God (vow) live the life for one year and go out and serve the Church, live with other Sisters and strive to make our work our prayer and our prayers our work. After a number of years we commit ourselves to God for our whole life. We don’t make that decision easily and when we are ready we know it is time. If this is not the life for you you can leave at any time.
Postulant Katie: Religious Orders are different compared to how seminarians go to seminary as they discern the priesthood. As I discerned one of the greatest resources was an opportunity to go to the Vocation Awareness Program in Dallas Texas. This weekend was filled with opportunities of prayer, silence, presentations and resources, socializing with fellow discerners, and a chance to talk one-on-one with religious sisters. This was a wonderful launching pad for me to take the next steps to research different orders looking at their Charisms and spirituality foundation. Then I explored looking at websites and visiting. What I realized is that all Religious Orders are a little different in their formation process but that typically it is 6-9years of formation discernment before making a final commitment. Imagine the final commitment of profession to that of getting married.
Did you ever not want to be a Nun?
Sister Annette: I resisted His call. I didn’t want to give Him all that I thought He was asking. I guess most of us do struggle with our life’s choice at one point or another for many reasons.
Sister Laura: Yes, there were times when I didn’t want to be a Sister. When I was in High School I was very homesick and just wanted to go home and be with my family. At other times when I would get discouraged, I would want to quit. Deep down in my heart, however, I knew that God was calling me to give my life to Him and He would give me the grace I needed to get through the tough times. And He did!
Sister Cecilia Joy: When I was younger, I wanted to be all sorts of things. A singer, an actress, a journalist, etc. I’m glad God eventually called me to be a sister working in media, vocations, and spiritual care.
Postulant Katie: This was an unexpected calling for me. I went to college to play on their women’s ice hockey team and at that time in my life I was distant from God due to incidents in life. After my freshman year I was injured while playing ice hockey and I walked into campus ministry to set up service opportunities for my team as requested by my coach. Walking through that door changed my life and God reached me through the campus minister, priest, and most importantly my peers. Of course there is a lot to this story. Three years later I was welcomed into the Catholic Church after completing RCIA. God works in truly mysterious ways which many times we cannot see in the moment but when we look back the pieces come together in a beautiful mosaic. After college I served two years with the Jesuit volunteer corps Midwest. I was convinced that I was called to be a campus minister and decided to go to graduate school in order to be able to serve as a campus minister. Once I graduated God had other plans and I moved to Colorado. But it was then in Colorado springs, Colorado that I received my unexpected call. When we are at the point to truly surrender ourselves to God and ask Him what He wants from our lives, the answer might surprise you as it did me. He called me to discern the vocation of a Religious Sister and so here I am today as I prepare to enter the Novitiate in June! Please pray for me and all of our sisters in formation.
Watch for Part Two of this series.