You might find yourself thinking: these days, why would anyone want to become a nun? And really, it’s not a bad question. Life as a nun doesn’t stand out as the first thing a woman would choose these days. But what does make a woman take that step…and what makes her keep going?
Sr Sophie, who is our youngest sister in Australia, found our sisters during an Internet search. Until then, she hadn’t even heard of our sisters, but something drew her to the website. There, a picture of two sisters smiling led her to send an email. Although, she says, God’s call may be difficult to follow, “it is always a call of joy”.
Sr Paula, our Vocations Director, came to Australia from Belarus and says she has found so much happiness as a sister. Growing up, she had big plans for her life. She wanted to study, get married and have children. But she realised these things weren’t really making her happy, and after meeting our sisters and seeing how happy they were she knew that she also wanted to belong to Jesus. When she told the superior that she wanted to be a sister, the reply brought her a lot of peace: “Oh, I knew it!”
Sr Christine, who is actively involved with youth at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills, also dreamed of being a wife and a mum. As she grew up on a farm in the Philippines, she didn’t know any nuns and learned about God through religion classes and through her parents’ example. Joining youth groups helped her develop a relationship with God, whom she felt really loved her. “I would not say that religious life is better than married life or staying single”, she says, “but for me it is, because I realise now that this is my life.”
For Sr Jean, who worked for many years at our school in Marayong and as a careers advisor, it all started with prayer. She came to know our sisters through attending their school in Philadelphia, USA, and asked St Thérèse of Lisieux to pray for her and make her a sister. Seeing how happy the sisters were, she really wanted to be like them, and at the age of 13, she prayed words that would inspire her life: “Here I am God, send me! Make me a Sister!”
Sr Helen, who has recently returned to Australia after several years ministering in Rome and Ghana, also grew up knowing our sisters through attending their school. The kindness and spirit of those sisters really stayed with her, and she says she is grateful “for the numerous blessings and opportunities which I have experienced in being able to continue and deepen my relationship with God, and serve God’s people.”
For Sr Grace, who for years has served in many ministries for our congregation and around the Diocese of Parramatta, vocation has been for her a journey of reading and responding to God’s signs in her life. She was initially drawn to our congregation’s charism and love of families, and says, “I believe God wanted me here and gives me something new to discover every day.”
For Sr Rosanne, who ministers in a school in Maitland, there is a lot of joy in living her vocation. While some people have asked her if she regrets giving up marriage and family life to be a religious sister, she says, “I honestly believe and feel that I have been given far more than I can ever give up. I have a loving family…I know my own Sisters…I have been invited into the lives of many people… Most of all, I have found a loving and faithful companion in my God.”
Sr Rita, who works as a chaplain in two hospitals in Sydney, met our sisters on a study trip while growing up in the Philippines. When she joined the congregation, everything was so new for her, but she was sure that “God invited me to this journey, no matter how unusual the things around me appeared”.
And it’s true. God does invite each one of us, in such beautiful and diverse ways. No two stories – even no two stories of our sisters – are exactly the same. There isn’t always one clear sign or experience guiding us to know where God might be leading. There might not even always be a clear answer to the question, “why would anyone want to be a nun?” But that’s part of the beauty of being called, because often it’s the little moments and experiences that lead us to God.
Maybe you are thinking about your life’s journey and your future right now, or maybe you know someone who is. Maybe you can hear God’s voice speaking to you, or maybe you’re unsure of what God is saying or struggling to hear Him. Even in all of that, remember: God loves you, He is with you, and He wants you to be happy. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge!
For our sisters’ full stories, go to http://csfn.org.au/sisters-stories
This article was written through common efforts of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.