Sisters and Religious Life

Do sisters get a day off?

Dear Brydie,

Thanks for your email.

Yes, all sisters would be encouraged to take some time away from their ministry (work) in order to relax and catch up with friends, and do things that they really enjoy doing. Some sisters would work at the weekends, and so their free time -(sometimes that could be more than one day off) would be during the week. Others, e.g. teachers, would have free time over the weekend and during the school holidays. Of course, not all our time away from our ministry is "free" - we have responsibilities to our communities and families that take time, but every one of us would be encouraged to take some free time so that we recoup our energies. We also have time each year for a holiday, and a week's retreat.

God bless you Brydie
Sr Mary
  
 

How do I make the right choice?

For the past five or six months, I have had thoughts come and go about life as a religious. Sometimes I feel that this is something that the Lord wants me to do and sometimes I do not. I am a 21 year old woman in college trying to understand what he wants for me. I would like to be married and have a family one day but I am also open to the possibility of religious life. My family is supporting me in some way. They believe that if the Lord wants me to be a nun then I will become one eventually. The problem is that my mother wants me to wait until I graduate to attend a 'come and see' weekend. This will be at least a year down the road. I feel that I need/want to do this as soon as possible. We are also concerned that the sisters I will meet will discern my calling for their best interest and not my own. My biggest concern is that, if I become a nun, I will meet and fall in love with a man and then have to choose between the convent and that man. Also, I enjoy going to new places and from what I understand I will not be able to do that once I commit to one convent. Please help me discern what the Lord has for me. Right now I feel that I could be happy with any vocation that the Lord has for me. How do I make the right choice? My desire for a certain vocation changes throughout the week and the month. Please pray for me. Thank you.

Dear Shirley ,

Thank you for your question, which I will try to answer briefly. I believe that what you experience is not uncommon, and I also believe that your parents have your best interests at heart. You also say you are 21, and so you possibly have a fair amount of latitude and maturity to handle the advice given to you by those who love you. Firstly, it would be good to talk to a number of people whose advice you can trust. Included in this could be a trusted Sister or other Church worker. Having worked in vocation ministry for many years, most (probably all) of the Sisters working in this area really have the person's best interests at heart. God is calling you, individually, and it is a vocation guide's role to listen, to help, but never to coerce in terms of their "best interests". A year is a long time to wait for a "come and see" program, but then again, compared to a life-time, is possibly not too long.  In any case, there are general 'Come and See' programs offered by Dioceses and the various Vocation Networks in each State, along with those conducted by specific Orders. Maybe in this time of your vocation ideas changing "throughout the week and the month" it might be good to investigate the different Orders available and one of these general 'Come and See' programs, keeping all your options open, rather than just going on a specific Orders 'Come and See' - this may be your parents chief concern. If wanting details, just contact me again through this website. In terms of travel, many Orders these days are International, and travel is part of our ministry, updating our studies, etc. Each Order would have different policies here, though, that you could easily check out. In terms of 'falling in love', speaking to a spiritual director or vocation directress about this and many other issues might help to clarify all the issues involved. Certainly this is a big issue that you raise. It is not uncommon for Religious to fall in love after making First Vows, and after making Perpetual Vows (5 to 9 years down the track), and some hard decisions need to be made if this occurs. For many of these, this person becomes a life-long friend, with the Religious remaining in the Order. For some, the decision is made to leave and to marry. Certainly, the Formation Program that a young sister is involved in with her journey to Profession and beyond helps you to know yourself more fully, and so helps you to make a more informed decision about where God is ultimately calling you in your life. And with the prayer and support of others around you, and the calls you hear from the poor and all those you serve - all these will eventually help you discern where God is leading you in your life.

To listen to your life and to God, with the help of others, is possibly where he is calling you at the moment.

God Bless,

Br Rod

How would you describe a sister?

Dear Lucie,

Thanks for your email.

It's impossible to describe "a" sister, as there are nearly 7000 sisters in Australia, and they're all different, as they're different ages, have different personalities, come from different backgrounds and cultures, and belong to different orders (or congregations) of sisters (there are about 70 different orders in Australia). However, if you're interested in who sisters "are" and what they "do", I don't think I could improve on what has been written in our website about sisters.

A Sister is a woman who

. Is committed to sharing in the life and mission of a religious community.
. Lives a vow of poverty, living simply and sharing her personal gifts, time and resources with others.
. Lives a vow of chastity, living celibacy as an expression of her love of Jesus and all people, but not in an exclusive relationship.
. Lives a vow of obedience, living attentive to God's call through prayer and other people.
. Lives a life of faith and prayer so as to grow in her relationship with God.
. May serve as a missionary to people of other cultures.
. May serve in education, health care, parish, youth ministry, spirituality, aged care, pastoral ministry, social work, and as a  contemplative.
. May be commissioned by her community to serve wherever there is any need, especially among those who are poor.

Lucie, you might like to revisit our website, and find out about the different orders of sisters here in Australia. A lot of them are "on-line", and their home pages tell you lots about them.

God bless you and your family
Sr Mary
 

To be a religious does it mean that you have to give up everything that you are?

Many times I tell myself my decision is to go with it and many times I find myself scared like crazy. Deep inside me is a hope that God will change his mind and that I probably just understood this whole thing all wrong. Is that a temptation from the evil one? To be a religious does it mean that you have to give up everything that you are? Why is that so when I thought God will not want something out of our nature?

Dear Christine,

Thank you for your questions and thank you for sharing so much of your journey of faith with all its joys and struggles. Discerning God's particular call for us is never an easy or straightforward process. As our life of faith is an ongoing journey, so too are our efforts and desire to discern the path God wants us to take. As you said, there are so many aspects of our life to take into consideration - who I am as an individual, my relationships with others and my own gifts and talents. I certainly do not believe God asks us to give up who we are if we are called to Religious Life. Rather, God wants us to take the path in life which will help us to be 'fully' who we are because that is who God has created us to be. This path may be Religious Life, Single Life or Married Life. No particular one is 'better' or more perfect than another - they all give a different expression to our lives and the life of the Church. First and foremost each of us has a vocation to be a disciple of Jesus through our baptism. How we do that will be different for each individual but each is of equal value in the eyes of God.


I too had doubts and questions when I was considering Religious Life and went through many ups and downs. What I found most helpful was to have a trusted person I could speak to about my journey. Sometimes we call these people Spiritual Directors or Mentors and if you are considering Religious Life then it would be helpful if this person was a Sister, Brother or Priest who has an understanding of the kind of vocation you are thinking about. This person can act as a guide on your journey of discernment. Perhaps you could ask your Parish Priest or a Sister who you already know to advise you on who could be this guide for you. Many of us have experienced the questions and uncertainties you are experiencing and a spiritual companion can help us to look at these things from a different perspective which may help clarify some of these questions for you. I hope this is of some help Christine.

All the best and God Bless.
Sister Monica.

What is a vow?

Dear Helen, thank you for your question.

A simple answer would be that a vow is a free and deliberate commitment made by a person to God and to others.

Men and women who make profession in religious communities do so by making vows, usually, of poverty, chastity and obedience, committing themselves to God, and to live in community with each other. There are initial vows, then about five to nine years later, final or 'perpetual' vows are taken for life.

A man and a woman wishing to marry make a vow to each other before God, again, to commit themselves to each other for life.

I hope this answers your question.

God bless,

Br Rod 

What is the sisters of mercy?

Dear Franny,

The Sisters of Mercy website is at www.mercy.org.au and on the front page we read God's mercy to us is the heart of our service to others. Our gift as Sisters of Mercy is to know God's loving kindness and to share it with others.

Thank you for your question,

Br Rod 
  
 

What is your vocation? Have you achieved it?

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your question.

A vocation is all about a calling to a particular way of life in the Church. This calling or vocation may be to married life, single life, Priesthood or to Religious Life as a sister or brother. However, every Christian has a vocation - we are all called to be disciples of Jesus, to holiness - which is about being the person God created me to be. How we do that will be unique and individual to each one of us.

My own vocation is to the Religious Life as a sister. Even though I have made this choice my journey of faith continues each day and each day I do my best to continue to say 'Yes' to what God is calling me to.

I hope this has been helpful Sarah.

God Bless,
Sister Monica. 
  

What's the difference between Sisters and Brothers?

Thank you for your question. Really, the major difference is as simple as saying that one group is made up of women and the other made up of men. Sisters and Brothers in the church live a similar lifestyle (in a Community), take similar vows (Poverty, Chastity, Obedience), pray in similar ways (together and privately), are involved in similar ministries (education, health care, working for the poor and disadvantaged), and have similar ministires (teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, social workers, cooks, secretaries, counsellors, spiritual directors, university lecturers, theologians, etc, etc). They bring to all these areas, though, a certain style / spirit / charism, coming from their particular Founder / Foundress. And so, each Religious Order, whether male or female, has a certain way of going about things, a certain 'feel' to it, that makes it slightly different to every other Religious Order in the Church - making each Order special and unique and a gift to the whole Church.


I suggest you visit our OzVocations website - www.catholicozvocations.org.au - I think you'll discover lots about sisters and brothers there, and the differences will become very clear to you.

I hope this answer helps.

God Bless,
Fr Brian 

 

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