Improve family life, for good vocations

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Great vocations come from good families says Sister Maria Magdalene in an interview with CNA. The nun sees significant relation between the two events in the Church celebrated this year: The Synod on Family and the celebration of The Year for Consecrated Life.

“One nourishes the other,” explained Dominican Sister Maria Magdalene in an interview with CNA. “You don’t have vocations just materialize out of thin air. They’re fed by good families.”

“I think it’s really beautiful that Pope Francis has called this Year for Consecrated Life,” said Sr Magdalene, observing the year’s overlap with a period in which the Church is giving special attention to the family.

The Year for Consecrated Life began Nov. 30, 2015, and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

It coincides with two major Church events dedicated to the family: the World Meeting of Families this September, and the Synod on the Family in October, which follows a synod on the same topic last year.

Having entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist 15 years ago, Sr. Magdalene described the mystery of discovering one’s vocation as not unlike that of finding a spouse.

“Vocation is a mystery,” she said. For instance, when two people are getting married, one might ask: “Why that person?”

“It is kind of a falling in love. You trust in the Lord, and you trust where he’s leading you.” Sr. Magdalene recounted her own story, explaining that while she had considered a vocation when she was young and growing up in a large Catholic family, she had drifted from the idea of religious life.

It was not until what she described as a “reconversion” after college, following a broken-off engagement, that she began to seriously consider the possibility of a vocation.

“I really just started falling in love with the Lord, and going to Eucharistic Adoration,” she said. “The thought of religious life just kept coming back to me.”

Although she had not verbalized her thoughts about a vocation to anyone, her parents told her about a retreat with the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, during which she experienced a “moment of grace” in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

“I felt more attracted to this than I’d ever felt to anything else, and knew I was free to say yes to Him, or free not to,” she said. “But, if I was really going to be honest with myself, this was where my happiness was.”

She said she was particularly struck by one of the community’s mottos: “to contemplate and to give to others fruits of contemplation.”

Unlike a simply job searching, Sr. Magdalene explained, the discernment process is about a call, not comparing benefits.

She never had the desire to go visit numerous other convents to “discern what they had to offer,” she said. “It’s not a career. It’s a vocation.”

The charism of the order is in keeping with the Dominicans, founded by Saint Dominic in the 13th century, as an “Order of Preachers.” For the Michigan-based order, the central apostolate – which is education – flows from prayer, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Eucharist is at the center of the sisters’ lives, Sr. Magdalene explained. “Dominicans are very at home in the sanctuary.”

A teacher for the past nine years, the Dominican sister was sent to study for one year in Rome at the Pontifical University of Thomas Aquinas, otherwise known as the Angelicum.

“Being in Rome here as a consecrated is just pure gift,” she said. “I can be here again in the footsteps of the saints, and receive first hand some of the experiences that will be given to us as consecrated.”

Asked whether this Year for Consecrated Life will inspire new appreciation for the religious life, the sister observed that while religious vocation remains “a little on the hidden side,” the awareness is increasing.

She recounted an anecdote from when she was younger. A former roommate – who was not discerning at the time, but would later enter the religious life – once said: “If I were a man I would be a priest!”

“We saw around us good priests,” she explained, “but we didn’t really see sisters as much. It took going to my community to see a lot of sisters all in one place.”

“If every parish is praying for vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, or doing hosting events, or doing things to foster this year of consecrated life, then you hope that yes, of course, that there will be more of an awareness.”

Courtesy: Ann Schneible, CNA.

Image: Flicker.com

Arpanam

Arpanam brings you the fabulous stories of the heroic men and women who lead consecrated life in the Catholic Church. It is one of the projects of CONNECT, an initiative for doing research and and documentation as well as organising various programmes in the interdisciplinary area of media and socio-cultural life.

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