Postulant Jennifer Bourque shares about herself and discerning a call to become a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.
Hometown: Bridgton, Maine
I’ve been very blessed to grow up in a vibrant faith filled family and church community at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fryeburg, Maine. My parents have always been active in our church working with a variety of ministries like Chapel Ministries, RCIA, Pre-Cana, and Youth Ministry both at the parish and diocesan level. Growing up seeing how their stewardship strengthened their faith and family connections truly got me to become more engaged with my faith and relationship with Christ.
As I became more involved with our parish, teaching religious education, working with the acolytes and serving on the Parish Council aided me in learning about stewardship and the beauty that the Catholic Church has to offer us in tradition, culture and faith. During my formative years I was also blessed to have a Bishop who was engaged in having families and young adults understand the importance of the Catholic faith and using your God given gifts to work with others and evangelize our faith. He and the Director of Religious Education established the Maine Diocesan Catholic Council of High School Youth Ministry in which they provided a variety of retreats. One of the retreats that I was connected with was the GIFT retreat as a team leader. In this retreat, high school students had the opportunity to learn about the gifts and talents that God had given them and how to use these gifts in their church and hometown communities.
The more involved I became in the variety of church ministries the more I felt a call to evangelization. After graduating from High School, I attended Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. My goal was to obtain a teaching degree and join a religious Community or missionary organization and work with children and families. While, at Franciscan University I had the opportunity to meet with a variety of religious Sisters and spend time with them. During these years I also became acquainted with museum work and in my senior year, I felt that God was calling me to investigate this line of work.
After graduation I started working with Colonial Williamsburg and other National Parks; it was during this employment that I had the opportunity to share my faith with others and form strong ecumenical relationships. I also, felt that something was missing, so I went to graduate school and obtained a degree in education and museum studies at New Mexico State University. During my years in school I worked closely with the Newman Center and local parishes.
Once, I obtained my degree I continued to work with the National Park Service and forming ecumenical relationships with my colleagues and getting involved in the Catholic churches that I was attending. While being involved in these communities I kept feeling that God was calling me to something deeper and back to my root dream. When I moved to St. Louis for a National Park job at the Gateway Arch I became acquainted with the Secular Franciscan community and started attending their fraternity meetings and going through their formation program. I was also met Sister Delores Vogt and Sister Sue Ann Hall from your Community and spent time with them on my days off. The more time I spent with the Sisters the more I felt like I was somehow “home”.
With the intensity of my job at the park, I became distracted from pursuing this calling. I left St. Louis and moved to Connecticut to work with the Navy at their Submarine Museum.
While being employed with the Navy, I had the opportunity to attend daily adoration and speak with a Spiritual Director, Sister Anne Marie, who solidified that God was calling me into a deeper relationship with him. With her assistance I filled out the application for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and a year later I am here part of the Community of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.