By Sister Angela Laquet, ASC
People may wonder why Sisters choose religious life when such a journey involves giving up what others take for granted.
For instance, Sisters cannot accumulate wealth (vow of poverty) or marry (vow of chastity), although in some cases, they may adopt children.
But what religious life takes away, it gives back in spades. I doubt I would be as fully formed a person without the many blessings of religious life.
Here are just some of the things I’ve gained in the process:
- Using my Gifts. I’ve gained a greater understanding and development of my gifts and using them to serve. The Sisters and others have encouraged me to lead singing in my parish, which has built my confidence and skills. My service on a number of committees has helped me develop better leadership skills, which I’ve incorporated in my ministry as an occupational therapist.
- Community. Feeling part of a much greater community of followers with power to change things through prayer and action. I was privileged to take part in a number of volunteer opportunities with our ASC Sisters and others, helping in impoverished areas. Our prayer together was at the core of each of those experiences. Our Sisters participate in Peace and Justice actions that have brought about awareness and change in government and corporate policies.
- Permission to be myself. Learning that living as a Sister expresses itself in unique and beautiful ways. Each sister has her own way of bringing the Gospel message to others. As I get to know other Sisters, I experience that gift and it helps me to develop into my own unique creation.
- Growth. Understanding my own challenges and growing beyond who I was, when I entered. The formation process of becoming a professed member, as well as continuing workshops and prayer experiences, has helped me to shed my former self and create anew who I am today. When I meet people I knew before I was a Sister, they tell me how much I have grown.
- Sacred Trust. Being in a position of trust from the grace and great responsibility that comes from having “Sister” in front of my name. I am awed that people feel freer to share their difficulties, problems, and joys with me than before I became a Sister. I feel that these interactions are part of a sacred trust, and I am careful to reverence what I have heard.
- Expanded worldview. Being exposed to the expression of our community’s charism, or spiritual orientation and gifts, on an international basis and broadening my world view. Having been blessed to attend international gatherings of our ASC Sisters, I have learned more about realities in other cultures. I think I am more sensitive now to other people’s needs, traditions and attitudes, while serving others.
- Joy. Taking more pleasure in the wonders of creation and the simple things of life. I appreciate the chance to get away from the normal activities of life through an annual retreat. Those times away have helped me appreciate and embrace my role as a creature of God and my interaction with creation. I have learned to prioritize for simplicity, and am more involved in care for our Earth.
- Time to focus on God. An enriched prayer life and greater closeness to God. I have grown in my prayer life and learned more ways to pray through my journey in religious life. I have discovered the wealth of spiritual guidance among my Sisters as well as through spiritual reading and direction. I appreciate my prayer time much more.
- Friendship. Some wonderful examples of joyful living in my community. Our sisters enjoy playing together, and sharing stories of their times on mission, people they have encountered, and difficulties they have overcome. There is such a spirit of true happiness from the depth of their being and I strive to become one of these examples for the next generation.
- World-wide connections. Gratefulness for the relationships I have gained as a member of our international community. I still communicate with Sisters I met 15 years ago at an international seminar, as well as my new ASC sister friends from a recent seminar in Italy. I feel supported by them, and I hope they feel supported by me, as we continue to minister to what our founder described as our “dear neighbor.” Where one of us is present, we are all present.