Vocations Awareness: Sisters Share Their Callings
In honor of National Vocations Awareness Week (January 9-14), we share with you some of our sisters' responses to the question, "How did you become aware of your call to religious life?"
Sister Kathleen Karbowski, CSJ
Even before I started grade school I knew I wanted to become a sister because of the way my parents talked about the sisters they knew. One day a magazine arrived with a picture of a Daughter of Charity on the cover and of course that outfit looked strange. My twin and I asked what she was and I will never forget the loving tone of voice my mother had as she said, "Oh she's a sister and in fact, that's the kind of sisters you will have when you go to school." So I first fell in love with the Daughters of Charity. Seeing them in action and the great love they had for one another was so very evident and they were so happy.
But when it came time to decide which community after high school, I chose the Sisters of St. Joseph because I knew I wanted to be a teacher and this seemed to be the real focus of their ministry, whereas the Daughters of Charity had very few schools.
I have never regretted my decision (this is 49 years for me) because I have found living and ministring with the Sisters of St. Joseph has been so rewarding and life-giving. My prayer is that others may be as happy in their life choices and I am.
Sister Margaret Gregg, CSJ
I had Sisters of St. Joseph for five years in grade school and one year in high school. I was most influenced by Srs. Ann Dominic and Anne Julia, two that I had as a freshman. What I remember about them, aside of being good teachers, is that they were lots of fun. I was attracted by how they lived there life and how much they seemed to enjoy it. When I made the decision to enter there was no doubt as to which community I would join out of the three I experienced.
Sister Patty Johnson, CSJ
I had spent my college years volunteering on the near south side of St. Louis in a small non-profit that provided scouts, tutoring and visiting the elderly in the neighborhood. In that neighborhood there was a group of Sisters of St. Joseph with whom I had become friends. As I was completing my master’s degree in social work, I was trying to figure out how to create a support system similar to what I had experienced at the non-profit. I began to realize that I might not need to create that support because the sisters down the street seemed to have what I was looking for.
Sister Rose McClarney, CSJ
Being a member of a prayer group during college and going for a spring break retreat, I was reading the book Imitation of Christ. As I pondered, I felt a call to a life dedicated to following Christ other than through marriage. From there I learned more about religious life and decided to join the Sisters of St Joseph.
Sister Pat Giljum, CSJ
My desire to become a religious started when I was in high school. I enjoyed being around the sisters who taught me. They were happy, they had fun, they listened to me, they were helpful, they always had time for me. I wanted their happiness, and I wanted to be able to help others. It wasn’t what they said, but how they lived. I have been a religious for over 50 years, and am more grateful for my vocation every single day. It has been, and is a full, blessed, and a very happy life.
Sister Pam Harding, CSJ
Growing up I always felt God to be very present in my life. I had met sisters from many communties along the way but during a retreat I realized that God was calling me to be more than a teacher, God was calling me to religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph. I have felt blessed to be among the women in community sharing God's love with the "Dear Neighbor."
Sister Helen Oates, CSJ
In my mid-teens the thought flitted in and out of my mind that maybe God wanted me to join religious life. My response was, “Absolutely not.” I didn’t want it and I wasn’t going to do it. I decided that trying to be as good a person as I could be would be fine, thank you very much. When I was a senior in high school, the thought came that God wanted me for some reason. And it wouldn’t go away! Eventually, I simply felt compelled to say “yes.” I didn’t know anything about entering a religious community or which one I would enter, so I looked for some help from people I trusted. That was fifty years ago. I do not regret it.
Sister Amy Hereford, CSJ
I think for me it was once everything seemed to be going fine, I wanted "something more". It took some time to identify what that was, but in time it became clear that religious life was that something.
Sister Sarah Heger, CSJ
Someone asked the question, I guess at a time when I was able to hear it. I wasn't able to say yes to it right then, but as the question became prayer, and the prayer became life, and the life became joy, it was obvious that I couldn't say no and didn't want to.
Sister Maryellen Tierney, CSJ
My first awareness of a call to religious life came in high school and it was confirmed in my senior year. A movie on the Life of Christ helped me realize that Christ gave his life for me, so I wanted to give my life for Him. During my high school years, I attended daily Mass and felt God calling me to follow Him. The example of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the School Sisters of Notre Dame were a great influence in my desire to enter religious life. It was more God choosing me rather than my choosing God.