Discuss vocation, discernment insight
By Rhonda Miska
DUBUQUE — “I don’t know how you prepare yourself for the support. (I think of) the countless times I have asked for prayer. The sisterhood itself … I don’t know how you prepare for the beauty of that.” Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) Sister Lou Anglin offered these words in response to a question about the best thing about life as a sister.
Sister Lou was joined by Sister Paulette Skiba, BVM, on March 1 at Mount Carmel Motherhouse in Dubuque as part of the A Nun’s Life Ministry “Motherhouse Road Trip” series. During an hour long live-streamed video and audio podcast, they shared their vocation stories and reflected on experiences in ministry and community life with the hosts, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters Julie Vieira and Maxine Kollasch.
“Anyone who has a computer and Internet connection can participate in the podcast,” explained Sister Julie. “It’s like TV on the Internet. We have had people listen from more than 150 different countries.”
About 45 BVM sisters, associates and friends gathered at Mount Carmel to watch the podcast. In addition, about 40 people participated in chat room conversation. Archived podcasts are available through the website: www.anunslife.org. A Nun’s Life Ministry was founded in 2006. Through their website, podcasts, blogs and various social media platforms, they respond to questions “about prayer, faith, community, ministry and everything in between” in order to “help people discover and grow in their vocation.”
Sister Lou – who has served as a teacher, campus minister and on the congregation’s Initial Membership Team – began her journey with the community when she received a basketball scholarship to attend Clarke College.
“I didn’t realize what a wonderful place it would be for me,” Sister Lou recalled. “(There were) over 30 BVMs teaching and ministering at the college … one of them was mayor of Dubuque at the time. By the time I graduated, I thought, ‘I need to check this out.’” Though initially she felt uncertain, she reached a point of “not being able to say no. I couldn’t not do it.”
Sister Paulette, a religious studies professor at Clarke , was drawn to the community through meeting sisters in Chicago while she was in college at Mundelein.
“I had really been looking for a perfect community … but I really probably wouldn’t belong in a perfect community. This broken Catholic community where Christ is present … with the Eucharist,” was where Sister Paulette found she belonged.
Sister Paulette went on to serve as a BVM volunteer in Quito, Ecuador, where she sensed about religious life “a feeling of deep joy, that it’s right, it’s where I should be.” What advice did the sisters offer to those considering major life decisions?
“Follow your heart. Listen to what others say – family and friends who know you well. Take it to prayer. Find the courage that you need to follow your heart … just keep doing the next loving thing,” recommended Sister Lou. “Besides prayer, I’d say engage, meet people, volunteer,” said Sister Paulette. To those considering religious life, she added, “it is a difficult choice … a lot of people don’t understand what it is. But the joy is deep. It’s a great future to be a part of.”