In one of Pope Francis’ reflections on consecrated life, he hit upon a reality that resonated deeply with me. Speaking about community life, Francis acknowledged that
“It’s good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young, and it’s good for young people to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom.”
I experienced this when I entered the community at the age of 18. It was a different time, and at 18 women were marrying out of high school, so entering the convent was not such a surprise. I was responding to the voice of my God and I simply trusted.
At that time there were four retired sisters living in the same building as we were as postulants and novices. It was an experience in history for me. Sister Mary Brigid, Sister Mary Walburge, Sister Mary Cletus and Sister Mary Balbina embodied all that it meant to live a lifetime commitment to consecrated life. At the time I didn’t even suspect what I didn’t know about the new life I had chosen- or that had chosen me! But I could recognize that these women had succeeded in making it a lifelong choice. These were prayerful women, holy women, women who had lived the Gospel and their vowed life with joy and dedication.
I remember walking by their small rooms, noting the rosaries in their hands, and being sure that they were praying for me and for the needs of the world. It was only years later that I learned more about the many sacrifices they made in coming to California from their native Ohio, and about the many challenges they embraced in beginning a new venture in California. All I knew as a young postulant was that these were holy women, models of all I wanted to be. Their quiet lives in prayerful retirement motivated me to want to
“…carry it forward, not to safeguard it, but to move forward with the challenges that life brings us, to carry it forward for the good of their religious orders and of the entire Church.”
Pope Francis said it so well! As we celebrate our consecrated life, Francis’ words challenge us to allow the Holy Spirit to animate us, and to live our lives with joy
“always open to the voice of God who speaks, who opens up, who leads and guides us toward the horizon.”
– Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND
Sisters Mary Walburge and Balbina were among the first SNDs to come to California. Follow their journey here.