Fonticulus Fides

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saying "Yes" Forever

I've been able to interview two sisters recently who made their Final Professions in recent weeks. Here's one of the stories...I'll post the other shortly.

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On Wednesday, August 15, Sister M. Margaretta of the Diocese of Lincoln will make her final profession of vows as one of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George. The order is based in Alton, Ill., in the Diocese of Springfield.

Sister Margaretta was born Kathleen D___, the fourth of Mike and Betsy D___’s six children. Raised in Lincoln’s Saint Joseph parish, she grew up in a family where Mass, the Sacraments and daily prayers were unquestioned constants.

She said the idea of religious vocations was always before her. As she walked to Saint Joseph school every morning with her siblings, little Kathleen would pass the convent occupied by the Christ the King Sisters who were her teachers.

“They were all young, and they looked happy in their vocations,” Sister Margaretta remembered. But it was her second-grade teacher, Sister Christopher Mary (now a cloistered Dominican in Washington D.C.), who made the biggest impression on the child.

“She really planted the seed,” said Sister Margaretta.

When she entered Pius X High School, she found more inspiration from the Marian Sisters who were her educators, becoming more active in her faith.

Around the same time, her elder brother had decided to work on his master’s degree at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. After visiting him, she decided to join him there and get her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“The faith was so vibrant at Franciscan,” she explained. “I met some great people.”

Living in the dorms on campus were Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George. It was the first time Kathleen D___ had met members of that order, and she was immediately impressed.

“I was really drawn to them, she recalled. “I realized their life was so beautiful and I wanted to be like them, but I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of marriage.”

In retrospect, Sister Margaretta describes her vocational calling as “a real fight” to set aside her ardent desire for marriage and motherhood.

“My brother sent me an envelope full of pamphlets from different orders…I ripped it up,” she admitted. “I said, ‘Lord, I don’t want this.’”

With great faith, she asked God to change her heart. As she began her junior year at Franciscan, she devoted an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament each day with the intention of discerning if she was called to the religious life.

“My heart really started changing,” Sister Margaretta said with joy. “I started letting go of the idea of marriage and seeing the beauty of religious life.”

A trip to the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George mother house over Thanksgiving break provided additional confirmation “Once I got here, it was only like a day and this was it,” she smiled. “This was home.”

She asked to enter the order in November of 1997 and began her formation process in September of 1998. After a year as a postulant, she became a novice and received the habit, the most obvious external sign of the change in her life.

Though it took her a while to get used to the fact that “…you get a lot of looks,” Sister Margaretta welcomed the change.

“I was very drawn to give my life to God radically,” she explained “If I’m going to live this life, I want to do it all the way.”

She continued, “It’s humbling because people see a sign of the church in the habit, and you just hope by your actions you are a visible sign of grace.”

The order sent her Viterbo University in Lacrosse, Wisc., to finish her education degree. She became the elementary school teacher she had wanted to be…though teaching as a sister contains one fundamental difference.

“I realized that I do have a vocation to be a mother, a mother to my students,” she said. “What better can you do than to teach the faith and to see them grow and learn more, and to be there for their families? That’s a beautiful gift.”

She feels no regrets in trading the vocation of parenthood for her religious vocation.

“It’s hard and it’s sacrificial,” she admitted, “But my close friends all have three or more children, and I think I have a more realistic view now. Both vocations have their joys and their crosses.”

She is eagerly preparing to make her final vows and receive the ring that symbolizes her once-and-for-all commitment to Christ and His Church. “I’ve had these years of discernment and now it’s time to say yes forever,” she emphasized.

For young women who might be going through a similar struggle in determining their vocations, Sister Margaretta offered some advice.

“You can discern forever,” she said. “You’ve got to stay close to God, because you’re more able to listen and you’re going to want more of what He wants for you than what you want…It comes down to making that first step of faith.”

4 Comments:

  • Vocations are great, and to hear the stories of those who are truly called is magnificent.

    Speaking of callings, your story in SNR of 23 new seminarians is good news as well. How many are at St. Gregory's now? Do you remember how many ordinations we had this year? I was thinking six, but figured you'd know better.

    By Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse, at 9:21 AM  

  • Well howdy, "Sparki!" You big sneak... I had no idea you had a blog all along! =)

    I have to admit, I had a flash of panic when I got your comment message... I've had a few weird, spam-ish comments here and there. But luckily I figured it out by the context! I want you to know that dress was GARAGE SALE all the way, naturally! ;)

    I got that message, I don't know, HOURS ago (it seems), and have been reading this blog since then. Love it!

    I'm on my husband's laptop (the 7-year-old home computer is dying), so I don't have all my links here, but Monday I've got a great blog to send your way.

    Have a good Sunday tomorrow -

    And P.S. I know the praise is rare in your work, so let me say (very publicly here!) that I met Sister M.M. this week and she told me she was "very impressed" with you during the interview last week. =D

    By Blogger CathyBB, at 7:58 PM  

  • Oh, sorry. Didn't I mention it? It's not updated enough, of course. Too many other writing projects!

    By Blogger Sparki, at 9:34 PM  

  • ...and Sister M.M. is a real sweetheart. I can't think of what she was impressed with -- all I did was let her talk!

    By Blogger Sparki, at 9:35 PM  

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