On Friday, January 13th, I attended ‘An Evening with the Sisters’ at the Sacred Heart Convent in Calgary. Sisters from various communities of consecrated life gathered with unmarried women in our diocese to enjoy ourselves together. That is exactly what we did! There were Sisters from the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth, and the Seeds of the Word. There were also many single young women I recognized from the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy.
We started the evening by eating veggie pizza (since it was a Friday) and getting to know each other. I introduced myself to many of the Sisters and young women who were there. All the Sisters certainly had great stories about their interesting lives as Spouses of Christ. When one of the Polish Dominican sisters learned that I am half-Polish, she told me that I had to go and visit the beautiful country. I also got to see a few friends who are doing the Sabbatical Year program with the Seeds of the Word community. What a joy it was to hear their hilarious stories of community life while we ate dinner! I loved to hear all about their inside jokes and their sledding and skating mishaps.
The evening ended with Night Prayer, which is the last prayer Sisters pray at the end of their jam-packed days. We left behind the rowdy games to enter the calm of the chapel, where the red light of the sanctuary candle was waiting for us. To pray Night Prayer, each side of the room took turns saying the lines of a psalm. Before Sr. Dianne said goodbye to us for the night, we had a few moments of silence together in the chapel. It was a good opportunity to turn to Jesus in the Eucharist and ask Him for the grace to say yes to my vocation, whatever it may be.
As I watched the diverse group of women genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament and leave the chapel, I wondered what my life would be like in a religious community. I saw such beautiful women around me, each of them open to the invitation of Jesus in her life. God has a fulfilling plan for each one of them, and for me.
After everyone cleaned up, I grabbed some pamphlets about consecrated life and said bye to my new and old friends. I almost caught myself skipping out of the convent, because I was feeling so excited to know what God’s call is in my life!
I am thankful that I had the chance to get to know the Sisters of our diocese in such a casual setting. It can be very difficult to work up the courage to visit a religious order. Watching the Sisters enjoy themselves, I understood that they are human beings just like me. They like to eat pizza and play games. They have their own fears and dreams. But each one of them had experienced, at some point in their discernment, the courage to interact with the Sisters they felt they might be called to join.
I am reminded of a quote by Fr. Bede Jarrett O.P.: “What is love but choice, the choice of a friend? He calls us, because He loves us and He is always calling us. May He give us the silence of heart that will listen, and the discerning wisdom that will recognise, and the courage of love that will obey.”
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers