Little Did I Know
As a teenager, did I think I had a religious vocation? Never.
At 16, I was co-captain of the softball team. At 17, I bowled on the same level as more seasoned women. At 18, I was offered a sponsorship for golf. And I had a job that paid well enough to save up for college.
But then, the thoughts started coming into my head that I should be a Sister. At first, I laughed in disbelief. But the thought soon became a background to all my activities. God did not let go.
I learned that if God asks you to do something, He will provide the means to do it. An awesome responsibility? Definitely. But as a Sister I know He’ll handle it when I can’t.
If you’re getting the thoughts, pray, talk to Him. He’ll take it from there.
Sister Maureen Crawford, CDS
From very young, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse, marry and raise twelve children. I even had them named! As a high school freshman, I became a candy striper at the House of Loreto for senior citizens staffed by the Sisters of the Divine Spirit. I soon came to love and respect the Sisters for the way they lived their motto, “Always and Everywhere Charity.” And I answered His call.
God is never outdone in generosity. As a Sister of the Divine Spirit, I have experienced great joy, peace and fulfillment. God’s call comes in varied ways. My advice to anyone considering a religious vocation is to “Come and See.”
Sister Mary Babik, CDS
Power of Grace
God began calling me to the consecrated life when I was teaching a third grade class in Lanai City in the Hawaiian Islands. While writing my life history one afternoon, the thought struck me that awards, scholarship and such did not bring true happiness. Why waste your life striving for such?
Occasionally the thought of religious life would flash across my mind. And I began to plead and bargain with God to ask me anything but that. I’ll go to Alaska, teach and be a missionary. Or, don’t you want me teaching in Ceylon? But God was patient.
Years later I look back at that year in Hawaii and see how powerfully God touched me there. He led me to the islands as a first step on the journey to the Congregation of the Divine Spirit.
Sister Clara Baudison, CDS
For the Love of . . . Ice Cream?
The thought of a Religious vocation began long ago in grade school. However, it was not a positive thought.
Sister assigned a paragraph entitled “Why I would like to be a Sister – or why not?” I chose the “why not?” and wrote that my liking ice cream would be too much to give up if I entered the Convent.
That immature thought eventually left, and I grew to love the Church during my high school years. However, the profession of Med Tech drew my interest. I finished my college preparation and internship and worked, then relented, answering the call from the Holy Spirit to become a Sister of the Congregation of the Divine Spirit.
They have been very happy years (and I am still eating ice cream!).
Sister Lorraine Champagne, CDS
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Shepherd Girl from Iowa
Born on a farm near St. Lucas, Iowa, population 180, I attended a Catholic grade school and high school and two weeks after graduation entered the Congregation of the Divine Spirit in faraway Erie, PA. What a blessing it has been to be an elementary school teacher and to teach religious education on weekends. Summers? We spent our days helping at the House of Loreto nursing home in Canton, Ohio.
Now I have the privilege of working full time at our home for senior residents who are an inspiration to all. But, once a farmer, always a farmer, and any dog or stray cat is sure to find a helping hand when this “Shepherd Girl” is around.
Sister Mary Ellen Martin, CDS
The Holy Spirit’s Work
My vocation is truly the work of the Holy Spirit. From a very early age, I was attracted to prayer daily, went to weekly Mass, sometimes daily when possible, said the Rosary, received the sacraments often, enjoyed family togetherness in everything.
My vocation became very serious to me in my second year of high school. From then on I consciously encouraged myself to guard and nourish it. In the meantime I wrote to various communities without success.
One Sunday my mother discovered an ad in the Des Moines Register concerning the Sisters of the Divine Spirit. That’s it! I wrote and here I am!
Sounds easy, but it was very difficult, though I continued normally through school, helping my family and being with my friends.
I received a reply from the community and immediately began to make preparations as I was to arrive in Erie, PA around August 15th. That was a long way from Iowa farm country. My mother told me later that when I was on my way I never looked back.
My story is a very long one, but I will be eternally grateful to all the persons whom God sent along the way, especially my family and our own Mother Patricia. The Holy Spirit uses instrument for His purposes and He did so through my young life.
– Sr. Ann McGovern, CDS
“My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors He worketh steadily…”
1st Thread: My education in a Catholic grade school was a good solid catholic foundation of life taught by the sisters of St. Joseph. I always hoped to have a sister each new school year, but I couldn’t be one because they were so holy. Also, because I didn’t want the Holy Spirit to be “the Forgotten God” for me (as we learned) I put His initials on all my papers from then on, a prayer, and He led me to the Congregation of the Divine Spirit, leading me without me knowing it.
2nd Thread: I saw His Hand placing me in situations: Our neighbor’s daughters suggested their high school to attend, where I experience several retreats. My homeroom sister helped me locate the right Community (arranging for me to stay with her sister living near the House of Loreto where their mother was a resident when I traveled two hours by bus to get there) All these situation were deliberately chosen by the Master Planner, always pursuing my soul. He can be trusted never to give up on yours, either. God love you!
– Sister Diane Miklosko, CDS
More Than a Miscellaneous Expense
Who would imagine that washing dishes for 50 cents an hour at a home for senior citizens would lead to a Religious Vocation?
That was my first job. I wasn’t permitted to have a raise because my father wanted to claim me on his tax returns, and so the Sisters at the House of Loreto obligingly put me down as a “Miscellaneous Expense”. At the time I was a junior in high school, and after a few weeks of washing dishes, I knew that I didn’t want to do that forever. My dream was to be a registered nurse. Three of my father’s sisters were nurses, my mother had gone to nursing school, and my older sister, Kathy, was currently there. RN after my name sounded pretty good, and I was determined to get there. Sr, Fabian, head of the nursing school, practically had me enrolled by the time I was a senior. However, my mother had suggested that I go to Walsh College, get a degree, then go back to my home parish, St. John the Baptist, and teach my younger brothers and sisters.
I was the 2nd oldest of 13.
But Sr. Ann Jeanne, Administrator of the House of Loreto, had other ideas. She wanted high school girls to come after school and earn some “pin money”. Did I ever need money! My parents were good to their children, and we had all the food, clothing and necessities we needed, but the extras would have to wait.
So I took the job washing dishes, helping with food preparations, and serving in the dining room. Over time I was able to see in the Sisters who staffed the home a caring attitude and a spirit of prayer and dedication in their work. I
was included in Mass, rosaries said for the dying, celebrations and even volleyball on the east lawn.
Sr. Ann Jeanne refereed the games, and she saw to it that the best team won, or maybe the one that needed a little boost that day!
The Sisters invited me to their Motherhouse in Erie, PA for a visit and I was able to see more of the Community ministries. I graduated from high school in May and on August 15th I was in the convent.
Most of my time in ministry has been in elementary education. My response— Thank you, God, for loving me! I never got an RN after my name. It is my privilege to write, C.D.S.
– Sister Martha Cadden C.D.S.
“Watch your mouth . . . “
Many a parent has given this warning to unruly offspring. Who knows what trouble comes when the mouth goes ahead of the brain?
God said essentially the same thing to His family. Five times in Exodus chapters 3 and 4 Moses opened his mouth protesting God’s call. Finally, God said, “It is I who will assist you.” Watch your mouth, Moses.
God called Jeremiah to prophesy (see Jeremiah chapter 1). Jeremiah replied, “I am too young.” God answered, “I am with you to deliver you.” Watch your mouth, Jeremiah.
Job protested God’s treatment loud and long. Finally, in chapter 38 of the Book of Job, God had enough and said, “Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?” Watch your mouth, Job.
Peter tried to convince Jesus that the way of the Cross was not to be the Messiah’s way (see Mark 8). Jesus told Peter, “Get out of my sight, you Satan!” Watch your mouth, Peter.
A wise person said that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. Is God calling? Do not be afraid. Listen!
And watch your mouth.
– Sister Janet Harold, CDS
FAMILY: NURTURING FAMILY – BIG FAMILY
Since second grade I wanted to be a Sister. I grew up in a nurturing family and we’d play priest and Sister at home. As I grew older, however, a big family of my own seemed very inviting.
In high school, my brother and I began to frequent the Abbey of the Benedictine priests who served our parish. We got to know the priests and Brothers. These dedicated and prayerful men served the Lord with joy and zeal. I could do that! I read about different communities. I felt an American foundation would be best for me.
I wrote to C.D.S., but was still “on the fence.” Christmastime (my senior year) one of the Brothers sent me a card and enclosed a card he had received from a new Sister of the Divine Spirit. In it she conveyed the joy and zeal she was experiencing in her C.D.S. Community. “God, is this your message to me?”
I pursued it and when I entered, I still had that card and tracked down that Sister. Now, years later, I know the joy and zeal as well. And as for the “big family,” I’ve found it not only in our C.D.S. Family, but in my classroom: I’ve had many, many children!
– Sister Rita Ouska, CDS
With God, There Are No Accidents
While I was discerning a Religious Vocation, my mother was my closest confidant. There were so many Communities. Mom and I would visit the ones that were in driving distance; nothing seemed right.
Finally, my mother suggested I talk to Sister Ann Jeanne, administrator of the House of Loreto where my grandmother was a resident. After that interview, I was absolutely sure God wanted me to become a Sister. But where?
One March day I had an interview with the Sisters who ran an orphanage. It started to snow while I was driving, and the roads began to get slippery. The car ahead of me suddenly stopped, and I went into the median in the road. All was well until I got hit from the back. No harm was done, but I did not go to the appointment.
On my way home I was thinking: I didn’t want to teach school, and I didn’t really want to be around old people, but God must have had other plans. By the time I got home, I knew I was to enter the Congregation of the Divine Spirit – Sister Ann Jeanne’s community.
For years I have taught school and worked with old people. The lesson: let God be God in your life. He can transform you in the blink of an eye or a hit from the rear.
– Sister Jeanne Poulton, CDS
Rough Ways Made Smooth
My elementary, high school, and college education comprised the rough path that my life first took. I attended only public schools in acquiring my education, so my knowledge of God was very limited. After graduation from college, I moved to another city and worked for a corporation.
Although I had received a good education and was now working, I felt a void in my life. My prayer life up to this time had not been very strong, but I felt a strong desire to know more about God. Because I had not attended Catholic Schools, a priest gave me instructions about the Catholic faith. Learning about God and His love for me gave me a desire to attend daily Mass, to receive Holy Communion, and for frequent Confession. To get to Mass required walking a mile to Church, but nothing would stop me from showing God I wanted to love Him.
Father asked if I had ever thought about entering religious life. My answer was no, but his question started me thinking. The void in my life was not filled by acquiring a good education or working but only when I chose to follow God and said yes to Him.
Entering religious life to give back to God my life has made the rough path smooth, where I have been able to give all back to God and to know the joy and happiness that comes from serving Him.
– Sister Jean Bowman, CDS
A Very Rewarding Life
As with any decision we have to make in life, the choice of religious life can have a series of hills and valleys. For me this journey started after high school graduation when I realized that God was calling me to serve Him as a Sister. It was at a weekend retreat that I was introduced to a new community in the church – the Congregation of the Divine Spirit.
After visiting the sisters and seeing them in action, my decision was made, and within a short time I entered the Community. In the ensuing years I taught in our community schools and eventually earned my LPN license. With a nursing license I could help at our home for the elderly and also care for our infirm Sisters.
Living Community life brings with it many blessings and joys as we share with each other in prayer, recreation and work and are always there to be a moral support to one another in times of need. A lifetime spent in the service of God by serving others is a very rewarding life, for each day is filled with much happiness knowing that God’s will has been fulfilled.
– Sister Ann Collins, CDS
I have been asked through the years, “Are you happy?” and I have always answered, “Yes.”
When my mother had to accept that my father had dementia she said to me, “When you’re young and take your marriage vows, you think that’s it, but at times like these you know what they really mean. Your love gets you through.”
Consecrated life is like that. I was excited about entering religious life and vowing myself to an infinite Spouse. I didn’t think too much about “Take up your cross and follow me.” As I matured, I realized that all through life (religious and all lives), one’s path leads from many Bethlehems through many Golgothas to many resurrections.
My living of my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at times reminds me that I have taken up my cross and followed the Lord. Nevertheless, if one can see “happiness” from an other-than-worldly perspective, such as the joy that comes from serving others in and for the Lord, of having the daily opportunity to spend time in intimate prayer with Him, of living in a supportive community of like-minded Sisters and of knowing that I have a faithful and loving Spouse who is always “there” for me, how could I be anything but happy. Moreover, it is a happiness which (as any consecrated person can tell you) grows greater with each passing day and year.
– Sister Marilee Heuer, CDS
What is Truth?
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. And, I suppose, everyone asks consciously or unconsciously that question in his own heart. In my salad days I thought my “truth” lie in the art and science of acting. To that purpose I went to the university and pursued my goal. But Truth had other ideas.
At church I joined a Legion of Mary group that helped the Puerto Rican immigrants keep the Faith, and I fell in love with the work. I then decided that I wanted a full time occupation known as a vocation following the Truth of the Lord. I entered the Congregation of the Divine Spirit, a new American order of Sisters, a wonderful group dedicated to the spiritual growth of the Christian family.
I gave up the stage, and the Lord gave it back to me in the form of captive audiences. For years I have taught in elementary school, and I have also worked in activities with our senior citizens at the House of Loreto, our home for seniors.
The Lord is never outdone in generosity. I married Truth and received a hundredfold. Have you ever heard Someone say, “Come, follow me?” It is the Lord. That’s the Truth.
– Sister Marianne Perrone, CDS