Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mardelle Meinholz responds to a discernment question raised by a young adult woman. It is not unusual that this time of year provides moments for individuals to consider the deeper meaning of life and call and thus one’s relationship to God. God calls. We invite.
Is there something that you would like every young Catholic woman to know? For example, about living the faith, discerning vocation, about Jesus, etc.?
When I was seriously considering a religious vocation as a teenager, my father asked me to attend the Catholic high school in the area for one or two years. At that time, my Community, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, provided an all girls’ high school at Holy Family Convent. This was not a formal part of religious formation. However, many of its graduates went on to enter the convent and became religious sisters. After honoring my father’s wish, I entered “the convent”, the academy in Manitowoc for the rest of my secondary education. Since Manitowoc is quite some distance from my home, my parents drove me to the convent. As my parents were departing, my father stopped and turned toward me. I was standing on the large, wooden, open staircase in the front of the building. He said that I was always welcomed to come back home, but I had to stay for the academic year.
My parents had few years of formal education, but they were wise. They knew that I would become homesick at different times during the year, that I might face challenges which I would rather not face, that I needed to learn a way of living which was foreign to me since I was only in my mid-teens, and that, if I gave up before I allowed the Holy Spirit freedom to speak in my life, I may not be able to discern what God was calling me to be. For any of you who may be discerning a vocation to marriage, single life, or consecrated life, in God’s time he will guide you. You have experienced people who are living a married lifestyle and a single lifestyle for your entire life. Religious or consecrated life is new to you. If there is a pull you feel toward being a religious sister or nun, or any young men reading this, toward a religious brother or priest, give yourself time. Give God time. The good Lord will let you know if he is calling you to live in this special relationship with him. Remember Elijah (1 Kings 19: 11-13). God spoke to him in the gentle, quiet whisper of the breeze. He will do the same for you. Pax et bona.