Here’s a roundup of four vocation stories, three on contemplative nuns and one from a sister in an apostolic order.
First, Sr. Mary Joseph of the Trinity, OCD, died on June 6th, 2021. Before entering the monastery, she was Ann Russell Miller, a wealthy and well-connected San Francisco socialite. One of her sons, Mark Miller, tweeted a remarkable tribute to her. She was a highly unusual vocation story, having been married with 10 children before eventually entering a Carmelite monastery at the age of 61. Miller succinctly relates her decision to enter:
Her husband died in 1984. Five years later she gave away everything she owned in the world. On her 61st birthday she had a farewell party with 800 guests at a San Francisco hotel and flew to Chicago the next day. She entered the monastery in Des Plaines, Illinois: Home of the first McDonalds. She preferred Dairy Queen. So that’s where she has been hanging out for the last 33 years. Making rosary beads out of flower petals and sleeping in her own cell.
Sr. Colette of the Poor Clares came from a less dramatic background, but has an even more remarkable interior journey to her vocation. As a young woman, she was involved in charismatic prayer, and recounts having an unusual mystical experience:
“Suddenly I was swept off my feet … I was totally overcome and could not believe the intense feelings of love I had for God … Nothing in my life compared with it….” Today Sr Colette, as she is now known, talks about this “big experience of God’s love. I was blown away by it, and thought – I’ll do anything you want, even if it’s to become a nun. I got a big grace of prayer, a desire for prayer, a taste for prayer, a love for prayer. It came in an instant. One particular moment. Oh my God, and I knew this was Jesus, and I was overwhelmed with feeling love for him. It was very real.”
Read her whole story on the Irish Times.
A more recent vocation story takes a slightly different route as Gretchen Erlichman responds to the “call of the cloister” as a contemplative Dominican at Monastery of Our Lady of Grace. She describes her first interest as an “undeniable pull,” yet also acknowledges how little she knew about religious life:
Beyond the pious talk of hidden holiness, not long ago I had very little idea about what nuns actually do. Life in the monastery was a mystery to me. So, like a true millennial, I read countless articles, watched far too many YouTube videos, and scoured innumerable monastery websites to gather as much information as possible. To my dismay, I soon discovered that the only way I could move forward in the process of discernment was to actually contact a monastery. And so, I held my breath and clicked “send” on the inquiry email I wrote to the novice mistress at the monastery.
Read the rest of her story on Aleteia.
Finally, while Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP’s interview with Forbes on the FSP memento mori project is not focused solely on her vocation, she does reflect on her life before becoming religious, especially her love of punk rock. She sees a continuity between the rebellious nature of punk rock and her vocation as a Daughter of St. Paul:
I trust that God is doing something deeply good in the world through my dedication to his way of life—poor, chaste, and obedient. Punk rock is rebellious, but religious life is the ultimate rebellion.
Photo: Mark Miller