Many years ago, in grade school, high school, and college, we were taught by Religious Sisters. These Sisters were our daily companions in learning the three R’s, knowing right from wrong, being the beneficiaries of their lives of self-sacrifice, while at the same time showing us the beauty of our Catholic Faith. They were our guides, teaching us respect before the Blessed Sacrament, the proper way to prepare for confession, and how to avoid occasions of sin. If there was a question on any subject, you knew that Sister could answer it, for Sister knew everything, no matter the problem.
As a child growing up in this Catholic environment, I was greatly influenced and attracted by these dedicated women. The Sisters were everywhere, in school, in town, on the bus. The Sisters were part of everyday life. Their life and activity were very attractive to me. They were interested in everything and everybody. The most beautiful example and the one that attracted me most was: THEY PRAYED AND THEY PRAYED REGULARLY. I wanted to learn to pray as they prayed. I wanted to be faithful as they were faithful. I desired to be as dedicated as they were in their entire life.
There were many examples of different religious sisters in my young years. Some Sisters taught in the classroom. Others worked in the hospital. Still others were cloistered and dedicated to prayer. Some sisters went to the foreign missions. I dearly loved the hospital sisters and the foreign missions, and I thought for quite a while that my calling was to one of these orders. But after making a retreat with the Passionists, there was another voice, another pull at my heart. Each time I came here for retreat it was like coming home, and I hated to leave. The chanting of the Divine Office, the life of the Sisters all seemed to draw me to a real peace. This is where I was being called to serve Him.
Now there was a problem, for I had been accepted into another community. After talking to the Superior and the Novice Directress, I was sure that I was called to be a Passionist. The visit gave me the peace to go ahead with plans to enter this community. There were letters to write, explanations to be made. My fears mounted. What would people say? Would those who helped me get accepted into the other community be angry at my change of plans? How would they react? But, in the end all went well and no one was angry with my decision. There were, however, two more hurdles. I had to stop smoking and I had to tell my dad. I had tried to stop smoking, but I never carried through with it. In the end I threw my last cigarette down on the doorstep as I walked into the door of the monastery!
My last hurdle was my dad. To tell him that I had changed my mind and that I had been accepted into the Passionist community was harder on me than on him. After I finished my explanation, to my amazement he understood. He said, “When I was young, I wanted to be a religious, but I had no one to encourage me or help me. So, you go for me”. That was many years ago, and I have never regretted my decision. If only more young people knew the peace and contentment of following Christ, they would run to Him.
Is there something within your heart urging you to look into religious life? Speak to someone about your vocation. Get advice about looking into several religious communities. Go and visit communities, speak to the religious, and voice your concern. Ask questions and get help in making an honest evaluation. Take someone with you when you inquire. Many young people feel called, but they are hesitant about looking into a religious vocation. If you start to inquire, there are many people most willing to help and guide you along your vocation. Maybe Christ is saying to you, “Go you also into my vineyard as a Passionist”.