by Michelle Blevins, Sisters of Notre Dame Postulant
Despite being drawn to, and thus formed in, various congregations and charisms, there is something about being a young sister in the United States at this time in history which makes differences between us seem very immaterial. We all love our God and our Catholic faith. We all have a desire to make a difference in the lives of others through our various ministries. And we all love living with other sisters in community.
The Sisters of St. Joseph kindly hosted a gathering of “young” nuns over the first weekend of June at their retreat center in Cleveland, OH. In addition to those from the Cleveland area, sisters from Detroit, Dayton, and Cincinnati participated. There were twelve of us ranging from postulancy to fully professed. Most of the sisters I already knew from my experience with the Total Formation program at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center. However, since I am the youngest in terms of “nun-age,” I had the opportunity to meet for the first time some younger sisters who professed final vows before I entered formation.
The purpose of this gathering was to give young sisters the opportunity to come together to pray and relax. For many of them, part of the excitement was being able to discuss their experiences with others who are in the same stage of formation. Since I was the only postulant, my excitement came from witnessing that I am not the only young woman in the world who is attracted to this way of life that many others believe to be outdated. While I love the sisters in my congregation greatly, it can get disheartening when I realize that so many of my sisters are 30, 40, and even 50 years my senior. In fact, my sisters in Covington and I experienced the loss of seven sisters in the months since I moved here. If I didn’t know these other young sisters, the declining size of my congregation might seem very intimidating right now.
Another thing I noticed at the gathering was how much more I felt at home with the young sisters than in previous gatherings. This was the first time that I knew most of the women before I arrived. I didn’t have to walk into a room full of people who all knew each other, but who didn’t know me. Also, since I am now fully living in community, I can relate to some of the experiences that they shared with the group. One thing I love about spending time with these women is that it is rare to spend time with a number of young people who know how to embrace the joys of little things, e.g., stepping into a lake and allowing the water to caress your feet, sitting directly on the grass talking with each other and people watching, or seeing how long you can keep the volleyball in the air. Young sisters are very good at enjoying the simple things in life.
One word that comes up in conversation and encourages a laugh is the marketing of religious life. The ironic thing is, when I hear the word marketing, I think of it as an exaggeration or misrepresentation to get someone to buy something they don’t really want. When I look back on my limited experience in formation, I know that the joys of religious life speak for themselves. There is no need to stretch or twist the truth. Religious life is a beautiful vocation. I pray many other young women come to see that as well.
Original article appeared on the Sisters of Notre Dame Covington Province website on September 20, 2018