A Day in the Life of a Sister . . . .

One might wonder what do priests and religious do all day? What kind of mysterious activities are part of the routine of their lives? How do the fill they endless hours that their lives must contain?

The following story is not a complete answer to those questions but is based on the lives of two actual sisters who are members of the community known as the School Sisters of Saint Francis of Christ the King, centered in Lemont, Illinois.

We’ll call our composite member Sister Mary Alice. Like all religious she felt called to a particular expression of her baptism in religious life. Having attended a parish grade school and a Catholic high school, she then choose to see if following the calling in her heart was truly what would bring her to fulfillment and give her life the meaning she hoped her life could have. For many years now, Mary Alice has lived as a Sister. Throughout this time, she has experienced prayer, community, ministry and growth in various settings and through a whole variety of events and circumstances.

Now, in each day of her life, the underlying elements of her call continue to find their expression through her prayer, ministry, community sharing and responsibilities, and life itself.

For Sister Mary Alice, morning often starts about 5:00 with a shower, a cup of coffee and a quiet time of spiritual reading while seated in her bedroom chair placed near the window that overlooks the grassy fields behind her convent home. At 6:00 she joins other community members in the chapel for Morning Prayer. Together the Sisters raise their sometimes sleepy voices awakening their hearts to the presence of God through the psalms, hymns, readings and prayers that are part of the Church’s official prayer. Then at about 6:20, Sister Mary Alice and the others celebrate daily Eucharist. Sometimes, Sister Mary Alice is the reader at Mass, other times, she likes to serve as Eucharistic Minister or in some other way to add to the beauty of the celebration for herself and the others.

After Mass, she and the others eat breakfast together. She particularly likes the oatmeal on the cold winter mornings or the French Toast that the Sister who makes breakfast sometimes surprises the others with. After breakfast, Mary Alice helps with dishes on many days since she does not need to leave for her office right away. This morning time is often when she spends time in personal prayer which helps her to focus on God and all that her life is meant to mean to others.

You see, Sister serves as a Pastoral Associate and Lay Ministry Co-ordinator for three parishes in the town near her convent home. In the parish setting one can find Sister Mary Alice doing any variety of needed tasks. She visits the elderly and shut-ins, she works with parish volunteers to organize and run a Scripture/Bible study, she co-ordinates the R..C. I. A. efforts of all three parishes as well as teaches the candidates on a rotating basis with others who are involved.

Sister prepares brochures for parish missions and other activities sponsored for the spiritual enrichment of parish members. She has prepared and helped others to prepare for grief ministry within the parish setting. She explored all the possibilities of children’s liturgy options and has initiated a monthly children’s Liturgy of the Word experience in the parish where she is based.

All day long, phone calls from family members of shut-ins, lunch invitations, calls of those who need a listening ear cause her to pause in the midst of her planning activities to offer others some of the giftedness she experiences in herself.

By 5:00 she returns to the convent to share Evening Prayer and then supper with the Sisters. At supper she delights others with stories of Haddie and Lorraine and Mike whom she visited that day. One wanted simply to tell her story and then receive the Eucharist, another had a whole lunch waiting when Sister arrived and didn’t want her to leave . . .ever, the third had so many stories and jokes to tell that she had to promise to come back another day so he could finish.

Supper is finished and the kitchen is all cleaned up. Now it’s time for Sister Mary Alice to return to the parish for a meeting, or some other evening activity. When she returns home again about 8:30 or so, she enjoys some conversation, popcorn and sometimes a little television with a few of the other sisters.

On Saturdays, after Mass, some breakfast and a few house chores, Mary Alice loves to putter outside planting flowers, weeding the garden, soaking in the sun and just being out there in the fresh warm air of the convent grounds.

What do Sisters do all day? For Sister Mary Alice and many Sisters in today’s Church the specifics of that question might well be answered differently each day. Yet, the essentials of prayer, community sharing, and service to the Church are always the foundations for their activities and their sense of God who calls them each day to renew their commitment and to experience anew His call to love and be loved in ways that stretch way beyond the human imagination and lead one to walk the road that lead to God’s Kingdom.

Submitted by Sister Therese Ann Quigney, Vocation Director of the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, Lemont, Illinois.

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