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Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: A religious vocation is a mystery and a gift

January 10th, 2012 Posted in Vocations

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“A vocation to consecrated life, like every true vocation, is necessarily described within the context of mystery:  the mystery of God’s call and the mystery of human freedom.”

— Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

The above quote expresses in a beautiful way the call of God within my life. I have always felt a close relationship with God since the time I was young and have always felt drawn to deepen this relationship. I was brought up in a loving and caring family. Our Catholic faith was a very important part of our lives. I remember praying the rosary and going to church together. My parents modeled for us what it meant to be generous and faith-filled people. It is their loving example and God’s grace in my life that led me to religious life.

I became a sister because for me, it was the best way to deepen and nurture my relationship with God. I read somewhere that “Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. Rather, it is a calling that I hear.”

That calling is very special and comes from God. It is a gift. God calls each one of us in our own unique way to holiness. This call to holiness is rooted within our baptismal call. This call to holiness is being the best person that God created us to be and using our gifts and talents to spread the message of God’s love to all we meet. It is different for each of us. Whether God’s call is to the single life, married life, or religious life, the most important thing is to keep close to God in prayer and pay attention to the many ways that God speaks to us.

I am a registered nurse and have worked in various aspects of health care. This has been a very rich and rewarding ministry, where I have had the opportunity to be of service to bring God’s healing to those who are most in need.

I minister as one of the vocation directors for our congregation. This means that I work with young people helping them discern where God is calling them in their life, whether their vocation is to the married life, the single life, or whether they are being called to religious life. This ministry also has been a very rewarding and rich experience for me. I believe that working with young people and assisting them in their faith development is “holy ground,” especially working with those who are discerning a call to religious life. It is a privilege to journey with them as they respond to God’s call.

One of the areas also included in this ministry is collaborating with college students and campus ministers in various campus ministry activities such as retreats and service related opportunities which assist them in integrating their faith with service and mission, and then reflect on how this helps them deepen their relationship with God. I am always amazed at the dedication of the students to these service activities and also to their deep desire to nurture and practice their faith.

This past summer, I had the privilege to travel with a group of students and two of the staff from Neumann University to Madrid, Spain for World Youth Day, which is an international gathering of young people from all over the world to celebrate their faith. The theme for this year’s gathering was “Planted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith.”

At this gathering, Pope Benedict XVI urged the young people to share their faith with others. “Communicate the joy of your faith to others. The world needs the testimony of your faith.” There were presentations, prayer services, Eucharistic adoration, a beautiful live Stations of the Cross, songs, and the days culminated with a closing liturgy celebrated by the pope and almost 2 million young people. What a wonderful experience it was to witness such joy and enthusiasm among the youth of the world to celebrate the rich tradition of our faith.

These are just some of the activities that I have had the privilege of being a part of within my ministry as vocation director. This is one of the reasons that I love being a sister, the many opportunities that it has given me both as a nurse and as a vocation director, to follow the Gospel message of Jesus and to witness the many ways that people embrace this message and live it within their own lives, within their own vocation, especially in service to those who are in need.

When I think of my life as a Sister of Saint Francis, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for being a part of a community of women who have dedicated their lives in loving service to God and God’s people.  There are so many sisters, especially our elderly sisters who witness, by the fidelity of their lives, God’s love and presence in our world, and what religious life is all about.

Our constitutions state: “A vocation to consecrated life, like every true vocation, is necessarily described within the context of mystery:  the mystery of God’s call and the mystery of human freedom.”

This describes beautifully the invitation that God offers to those who are called to religious life. It is a mystery and it is a gift. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” I feel blessed to have received this gift of a religious vocation and I hope that I can continue to live my life in loving service following the example of Jesus and his Gospel message.

 

Contact the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia at 610-588-7733.

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