When Jacqueline Ramsey got her first job as a teacher in 2008, she could have never imagined standing at the front of a classroom in a white habit.
But that is exactly the life Sr Mary Dominica Ramsey has chosen with the Conventual Sisters of St Dominic in Ganmain.
The former Queensland teacher from a family of nine professed her final vows on October 7, along with fellow Sr Mary Catherine Reeves.
“It is truly a momentous and joyful occasion for the whole Church, and particularly for the Diocese of Wagga Wagga,” Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE, who presided over the ceremony, said.
“Religious life is a sign of hope to us all and we need it in our society that is so fixed on itself and has turned away from being fixed on God.
“The world will say you are crazy… we’re fools for Christ, and that’s something to rejoice in, that you are giving your life to Christ.”
For Sr Mary Dominica, the journey to crazy started at the World Youth Day in Sydney.
She was a first year teacher struck by the devotion and dedication of religious.
“After going to the vocations expo at World Youth Day I realised I had to do something, so I applied to Campion College, to learn more about the faith,” she recalled.
“I was able to develop a regular prayer life, and be fed with the beautiful truths of the faith, and how to think more logically and critically.
“I dropped out after two years and dropped into religious life and have never looked back.”
Her teaching career wasn’t a waste – she still makes appearances in the classrooms at St Mary Mackillop College, Wagga Wagga, decked in a white habit and black veil.
But teaching is secondary to the Sister’s primary focus on a love for the liturgy.
“We have a focus on liturgy, so we try as far as possible to include the rich Dominican heritage in our daily prayer horarium (Latin for ‘the hours’),” she said.
“My favourite office is Dominican Compline, and the Salve procession.”
Sr Mary Dominica said she had no expectations when she first entered the convent in Ganmain.
“I love the fact that our community is tucked away in a small rural town, as it emphasises that our main reason for being is to be His, not to work for the Church or be celebrities,” she said.
The Conventual Sisters of St Dominic now boasts five fully professed Sisters and two who have made temporary vows.
The last time a member of the community made her final profession was back in 2010.
The community’s prioress, Sr Mary Augustine, said the newly professed Sisters both have their own special gifts that enrich the community.
“Sr Mary Catherine is our historian and producer of dramatic wonders,” she said.
“Sr Mary Dominica is our builder and mender.
“Both are effective and enthusiastic teachers of the young, and both Sisters have a great love for and loyalty to the spirit of St Dominic and reflect that an irrepressible desire for the spreading of the truth and the salvation of souls that was so typical of him.”
Sr Mary Dominica said it was important for people discerning a calling to religious life to pray and investigate religious life practically.
“Pray for the grace to be open to God’s will, whatever that may be, and then act,” she said.
“Visit convents, ask lots of questions, especially in prayer, and listen to the answers.
“If you don’t have a vocation to religious life, the process will have made you a better person.”
Republished with permission from The Catholic Leader, the online publication of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.