Fiat House Opens Women to saying

Fiat House opens women to saying "yes" like Mary
by Jennifer Brinker in the St. Louis Review Feburary 22, 2012

On a recent evening at the dinner table, Sister Linda Markway proudly displayed her newfound knowledge of the art of fist bumping.

The informal greeting of two people bumping together closed fists is something the 62-year old admitted she didn't know about until recently. She credited her new lesson in part to recent exposure to a more youthful presence taking up residence within her community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

It might seem like a trivial bit of knowledge, but it's a small way in which the co-director of vocations is learning more about how young people live, and in turn, how her religious community can reach out to them.

That's one of the reasons why Sister Linda is behind a new initiative, called Fiat House, where women can discern their future vocation. Named after the Blessed Mother's "Fiat," or response to the Annunciation ("Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" Lk 1:38), the house opened last April as a way for the sisters to walk side-by-side with women who are exploring where God might be leading them, be it religious life, marriage, single living or another vocation.

The house, a former convent, is located on the campus of St. Andrew Parish in Lemay and just a stone's throw from the sisters' motherhouse at Carondelet. Living with Sister Linda are Sister Kathleen Eiler, also co-director of vocations, Sister Sarah Heger, an initially professed sister, and the house's first two discerners: Aisa Rocha, a nursing student at St. Louis University, and Deanna Molosky, who works at Places for People, a local organization that provides mental health services.

Sister Linda stressed that the house isn't about discerning only a religious vocation, but rather, "we want to help them in whatever discernment they want to do."

The community combines elements of personal and group prayer, time for socialization and community building through shared meals, activities and more, and guides on how to discern a vocation. Each discerner, for example, is asked to meet with a spiritual director of their choice.

Molosky said what attracted her to Fiat House was the "community aspect." A recent graduate with her master's degree in social work, Molosky said she wanted time to reflect on her work as well as her faith life. Fiat House, she said was a place where she could more deeply delve into those issues.

Plus, "I really didn't want to live on my own at first after graduation," she said. "I like to learn about others."

Rocha said she started discerning religious life during a stint with the Vincentian Service Corps. She's since discovered that religious life is not for her, but she's not yet sure what her vocation is. Living at Fiat House, she said, is helping her with that exploration.

Sister Sarah, who teaches fifth grade at Marian Middle School, noted that a discernment community fits in so well with what she sees young people seeking upon graduation from college and transitioning into adulthood.

"I've seen so many friends come together and live in community after college," said the 30-year-old. "It's what young people -- young adults -- crave."

The sisters have promoted Fiat House through campus ministry programs, primarily at Washington University, St. Louis University and Fontbonne University, the last of which is sponsored by the sisters. Discerners who live at the house pay a modest rent, said Sister Linda, and just like any other household, they work together in cooking, cleaning and leading prayer each evening.

Just like Mary, those who come to discern are searching for "our 'yes' to God," said Rocha. "This is a place to seek that out, our own 'yesses.'"

More information on Fiat House

Fiat House is a community of discernment, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. For more information contact:

Sister Linda Markway or Sister Kathleen Eiler: (314) 544-7131


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