I have a thing for nuns. I love talking with them, I love hearing stories of discernment, I love watching them live out their vocation. I regularly tune into Sr. Julie Vieira’s blog-ponderings on being a modern, young, Catholic nun.
So I wasn’t the least bit disappointed last weekend when I found myself sitting next to a Franciscan from Upstate New York. We were on a Sisters of Mercy college campus and I could hardly conceal my excitement when she told me she was a nun—and the soon-to-be Director of Vocations for her community. I peppered her with questions: How many women join every year? Is your community worried about its future? What do you think is the future of professed communities of women?
She told me of her efforts to make sure young women feel supported in the community, to have orientation weekends in different parts of the country (rather than requiring women to travel to New York). She plans to start a blog by new postulants and novitiates. She feels religious life moving in new directions—and she is eager to help her community be ready for it.
One of the things I remember vividly from my four years at a Benedictine college was the calmness of the sisters about the future of their order. Earnest and slightly worried, I asked several if they ever fretted about the future of religious life (the average age was somewhere around 70). Each woman I asked calmly smiled and shook her head, oh no, dear. Women’s professed communities have been shifting and moving, growing and spurting for hundreds of years. We’ll continue to do so—and who knows? The next phase might just be more invigorating than this one.
This is one of the things I love about nuns—the sense of stability and place. They are models for me, as I twist about and sort through my Catholic life.