What High School Students Discovered about Consecrated Life

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

July 13, 2023

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Spanjers’ San Miguel High School Students in Tucson, Arizona, as a part of a study of Vatican Documents Lumen Gentium Chapter IV on Religious Life, shared responses to the question: What did you discover about Religious Life? We take the time to pass these insights on to you.

Something I discovered on this chapter on Religious Life…

  • I always thought the vows were only focused on love since it made sense to Marriage. I like how the Vatican Vows go more in depth to the overall relationship you make with God and how after you will apply these vows to your daily lives.
  • Being a brother or sister isn’t the same as being a nun or priest, that they are actually completely different, they are both a life of worship to God, but nuns are a quiet life while brothers and sister are the presence of God in the world.
  • Religious life requires so much sacrifice and dedication, but to learn how to be mindful that all of this is not for themselves but to create an impact on others and for them to have an example to follow.
  • I was surprised how close the Brothers and Sisters are to the real world. I always thought that these religious groups were isolated and just did not interact in the secular world. However, I learned that it is the exact opposite with how these groups are obligated by canon law to get close to God’s people, everyone, and to God Himself. An essential part of their mission is to be in contact and interaction with other people, which I found astonishing and amazing.
  • I realized it is not just the priests and the Pope who make a difference but brothers and sisters who are active in the community aid us the most.
  • I discovered chastity and the meaning of it. I had an idea that this Religious life follows chastity but this chapter confirmed it. I also found out what the actual definition is.
  • Becoming a Brother or Sister isn’t always a straight path in figuring out what is wanted. Discerning is a big part of it and the process is not a short one that also requires a lot of effort building relationships with others and with God.
  • I learned that you do not need to have a religious background or be very religious to become a Brother or a Sister.
  • You do not have to be the perfect person with a religious upbringing to be one of them. I thought it was really interesting to hear Br Jack’s story because he mentioned himself that he was not known for the best reputation but as he grew older, he discovered things he was passionate about and what he wanted to dedicate his life to. I also thought it was really interesting how you do not have to have the most perfect relationship with God in order to become a Brother or Sister or to even continue being one, it is all just an ongoing process.
  • I discovered the beautiful and important world of the Religious, and I learned about how important they really are and the sad reality behind the decline of both the Brothers and Sisters.
  • Religious life is a process, a long process, it is not as easy as many people think it is and you have to fully commit yourself to this. Through out this process you are allowed to not want to have this life while still continuing to go into the path of God. This encourages many people to try it out.
  • All lay people have a part in the church’s mission, not just those who are extremely dedicated to church life. Anyone from your parents, to the mailman, to your teacher are part of Jesus’ mission for us as lay people.
  • Religious life doesn’t always insure a 100% connection with God. Religious people are like anyone else and can struggle with God’s relationship. It is dedication and something that is really scary. However from every story I heard, they were happy in the end with what they chose.
  • The evangelical counsels are the gospel vows which Brothers and Sisters have to take.
  • I thought it was really interesting when Sister Mary Ann explained to us that Poverty was a vow that detached the Brothers and Sisters from money in order to attach themselves closer to God.
  • Religious life is a process for a lot of people that is not always that easy. I learned a lot about brothers and sisters and how they really do enjoy their lives even though many of us could never imagine not owning anything. I learned that a lot of it has to do with being selfless and dedicated, understanding that what they are doing is to make a difference in those communities in need.
  • The thing that I discovered from this chapter and that was also really interesting was that Brothers have an extra vow. This being that they have to give service to the poor through education. I also learned that living through poverty means even if you teach you don’t get a paycheck because it is then taxed. Instead it just goes to the house that you live in to keep it standing. Both Brothers and Sisters though have to live in poverty.
  • What I discovered is that Religious life as a Sister or Brother is a one of a kind vocation. I learned that through it shares traits with that of priesthood and lay life, it’s a separate calling that leads to a special life. Brothers and Sisters get a calling from God to live their life in full devotion to him and everyone else-no one person.

The world needs you. God calls you. We invite you.

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