Last week I was invited to be on a panel composed of women, ranging from a college sophomore to a theologian, who gathered to discuss women in the Church. A touchy subject these days, but nonetheless the conversation was very good. We each took a few minutes to let the audience know who we are and what our experience of Church has been. I am so glad that I had just come back from a weekend workshop on community otherwise I don’t know what I would have talked about!
I had notes prepared outlining my life from being a cradle Catholic to a candidate with the Sisters of Mercy, but I couldn’t see what held together all these important moments in my life. As I reviewed my notes the day before the panel it occurred to me that the common theme was community. The first community of my family, who instilled in me the importance of faith, led me to desire a peer group who shared my faith. I found this in high school when I left my public school for a Catholic one. Having classes in religion was helpful, but the more important thing was being able to “act” Catholic with my friends. We went to mass at school on holy days, had retreats, and clubs. I knew this was important to me so I found a Catholic college run by an order called the Marianists.
At college I found the same sense of camaraderie with my classmates and friends. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the same thing I was looking for when I started to discern. I knew God was calling me to religious life so giving up the partnership of marriage wasn’t a big deal for me; however, figuring out in what way God was calling me to live my life was another story all together. I had so many orders send me information and I visited so many people, but when I saw how the Mercy sisters were in community I knew I had found my home. And now I can’t wait to continue on my journey with this wonderful group of like-minded women all seeking God with their lives.