For The Dialog
CHURCH HILL, Md. – Pamela King was quite content with her life as a teacher in Kent County, Md., public schools, but she wondered, “if there is something else I should be doing.”
She received her answer in a roundabout way. Two years ago she accompanied her mother and siblings to Washington for a home-school vocations conference. During the day, she attended a session that included a Dominican sister.
As the nun spoke, “the Dominican charism resonated within me,” King recalled. On Aug. 15, she was among 20 women who entered the postulant program at the Dominican’s St. Cecilia Motherhouse in Nashville, Tenn.
The time between that conference and last week was arduous for King and her family, who are parishioners at St. Benedict Church in Ridgely and its sister church, St. Elizabeth in Denton.
“It’s definitely been a process of learning to trust,” King said. “I’ve learned a lot about faith and trust in the Lord’s plan.”
Before the conference “the idea of marrying and having children really spoke to me,” she said.
She had explored the idea of a religious vocation earlier in life. While being home-schooled by her parents she had attended a Pass the Word session for women. Pass the Word is a Diocese of Wilmington vocations office program that introduces religious life, whether as a sister, brother or priest, to high school students. At the time, life as a woman religious did not appeal to King.
Instead she received a degree from Salisbury University in 2010 and began teaching English as a second language. She was “very content at home and with my job” until that Washington conference.
Once back home, she wrote to a Dominican vocations director asking for more information and went on several retreats. The more she learned, the more she felt called to the Dominican lifestyle. The Dominicans are a teaching order, which appealed to King.
“I guess it was sort of a balance I was looking for – being able to share the faith on a deeper level,” she said, “something I wasn’t able to do in public school teaching.”
The motherhouse in Nashville, among Dominican monasteries she considered, seemed most appropriate to her. In February she applied to become a postulant, the first step toward final vows as a sister. She was accepted in May, and entered on Aug. 15.
While her parents, Ken and Jill King, have always encouraged their children “to spend time in adoration asking God where he wants them,” Jill King admitted that “We’re struggling a little bit.”
On Aug. 29, when Pamela celebrates her 26th birthday at St. Cecilia, her family will not be able to celebrate with her. She can only receive visitors four times during the first year, and can receive no phone calls or emails. Letters are permitted. She will become immersed into the Dominican lifestyle as she discerns whether religious life is for her.
“The church allows for up to seven years in religious vocation before making final vows, which is very wise since there is so much to consider,” King said. “It’s really a big step but I’m willing to see what God has in place.”
Like their daughter, the Kings feel their faith has grown as Pamela made her decision.
“It’s really been a lesson in trusting in the Lord and taking the next step,” Jill King said. “I’ve always prayed that they (her children) follow God’s plan for her their lives.”