When did you decide?
The question eventually pops up.
When did you decide?
I know - there are always gasps, eyebrows raised, disbelief.
The next question eventually follows.
How did you know?
How did you know religious life was for you, especially so young?
Well - I didn't know that after my First Vows, my superiors would send me to our daycare and I had to teach preschoolers and I was deathly scared of kids. I didn't know that I would miss my uncle's wedding because it was during the canonical year of my novitiate and no one expected him to get married. I didn't know that by the time I got a smart phone, it would be my nieces and nephews teaching me how to use it.
I didn't know what the future held.
What I did know was when I was 13, 13 1/2, all these huge life questions suddenly hit me. Actually, that was when I started to change. Really. If you looked at my class photo when I was in 7th grade and then in 8th grade, you won't have recognized me. I didn't even recognize myself.
It was a difficult time, to say the least. Ripped jeans were in, there was hunger in Africa, I wanted to change the world.
I was talking to my Mom. "Mom, I want to go to the mall. She said, "Why? You have plenty of
clothes." I said, "To get ripped jeans." Oh boy - at that moment, I could've sworn I saw
fireballs shooting out of her eyes. "Why would you want ripped jeans? You have perfectly
fine clothes. Why would you want to buy ripped clothes?"
I knew she was right. I knew I was giving in to pressure to stay in-fashion, I knew I was
wasting money on superfluous things. I was not immune to the nightly news. I saw those kids
in Africa dying from hunger and lack of fresh water.
I also knew that if I didn't have ripped jeans, I would stick out like a sore thumb at school.
It was so hard.
At around this time, one of our former youth leaders came back for the summer to visit her
family. She had become a religious sister with our community and had been persuaded to
give a vocation testimony to us, the church youth group. (You know how it goes) I say
"persuaded" because she was a very shy person. She had this teeny-tiny voice, barely above a
whisper. I don't remember anything she said because I couldn't even hear her!
The following summer she came back to see her family. And - she was again invited to our
youth group. By this time, many of us have warmed up to her. We started asking questions.
And for some reason, one question stuck in my head.
"Sister, how much clothes do you have?" I still remember the shocked silence after that
question. How could anyone ask such a personal question of a sister?
Sr Rosaline quietly answered, "We have 5 sets of our religious habit and 2 sets of civilian
clothes." Something clicked in my mind.
I thought to myself, 5 habits and 2 shirts, 2 pants. 2 shirts, 2 pants and 5 habits. If I become a
sister, I will wear the habit and no one will ever make fun of what I wear. If I become a sister,
I will have a much more simpler life and can give all that extra money from not shopping to
the poor. If I become a sister, I will have all this time to give away.
Simplicity. A sister's life is simple. She dresses simply so she has more to give . She lives
simply so her life reflects what is essential. She loves all simply because she knows she has
been loved thoroughly.
When did I decide?
When did I decide to become a religious sister?
I decided when I was 15.
I decided when I felt the attraction of simplicity.
I decided in 1997 when I made First Vows, in 2003 when I made Final Vows, this morning
when I woke up, and tonight before I go to sleep.
I decided when God decided to choose me.