Vocations

An Interview with a Nine Year Old (Emily)

We had the pleasure of receiving a series of questions from nine year old Emily, the daughter of twitter friend @Jimi971. Sister Lisa Marie shares her answers to the ‘interview’ with our readers:

What is your convent called?

Each of our Convents are named after either Christ, Mary or a Saint. Our Convent here in Sacramento is named Our Lady of Lourdes, in honor our Blessed Mother as she appeared to Bernadette (Your favorite saint!). Our Province (there are 18 provinces in the world – ours includes the US, Mexico and Canada) name is Cristo Rey (Christ the King).

How many Sisters are there? 

Currently, we are 5 here in our Sacramento community. It is really a small convent (but wonderful!). When we have young women visit, we have a pull-out bed in the parlor. Some of our convents have as many as 45 or 50 Sisters! Like our houses in East Timor, Indonesia and Italy. Overall, we are about 3800 Canossian Sisters world-wide.

Do you have to stay in a convent? How often can you leave?

We go out from the Convent nearly every day to do our works of charity. Here in Sacramento, all five of us work in Catechesis in the Diocesan parishes. We also have the opportunity to visit our families. Our missionaries go home every 4-5 years. Sometimes, when a family member is sick, a Sister has permission for an extended stay/visit with her family.

How do you have fun?

Each of us have hobbies we enjoy. Mine are: Rosary making, graphic design, writing, reading, video making (you can check out my videos on youtube), and photography. I like talking to the youth of our parish, and taking walks. We work really hard each day (see our schedule below), and some of us don’t return from our ministries until after 9:30 at night. So while we are catching a bite to eat when everyone is home, we talk about the things that happened during the day in our ministries, so we can rejoice in the Lord’s working in our lives, and share in the prayer for those we serve. Two nights a week we have recreation together. Many times we work on our projects (rosaries, knitting, crossword puzzles) and talk about things that are important to us. We do have a television, reserved for watching the news together at 10pm (followed by night prayer and bed), and on occasion, we review movies that we are considering using with our youth or young adults in our ministries.

What order are you in?

Our religious order is officially called Figlie della Carità Canossiane (FdCC), which translated is Canossian Daughters of Charity. Our Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa began the Institute in 1808, with a few followers out of the abandoned Convent of Saint Joseph’s in Verona, Italy. You can read more about her here. She also founded the Canossian Sons of Charity (brothers and priests), and the Lay Canossians (our tertiaries of lay men and women, both single and married).

How often do you pray?

Jesus desired that we ‘pray always’ (Luke 18:1), and the tradition of the Church has seven times of prayer a day to honor Jesus, and call our minds back to Him. Saint Magdalene desired that we pray seven times a day, using the seven sorrows of Mary (because Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is the example for our lives of trust in God). Traditionally, our communities would stop their work seven times a day, to stand with Mary in her sorrow, to refocus our attention on her Son, Jesus. We try to keep this same intention now, even though our rule – following Vatican II – specifies only two fixed times of prayer: (1) Lauds (morning prayer) and (2) Vespers (evening prayer). By Canon Law we are required to pray these two times. However, our community also prays at (3) 11:30am (before lunch), as well as our (4) personal rosary and  (5) night prayer (compline). We also have (6 & 7) two times of quiet meditation each day (usually 30 minutes in the morning, and 30 minutes at night). The highest moment of prayer for us each day is the (8) Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. On Fridays, we also pray a rosary together for Vocations, and often meditate together on the Stations of the Cross. Besides these times of prayer, we also make private visits to the Chapel to spend time with our Lord.
 
You can read about our daily life here.

Who is your favorite Saint? (mine is St. Bernadette)

My all-time favorite Saint is St Teresa of Avila. She is my inspiration for becoming a nun, and I still look to her for wisdom in living out my vocation, especially in growing in my prayer life with God Alone! :)
 
Our Foundress, in her own discernment of her call tried to enter with the Carmelites (the order of St Teresa) twice. Although she found much consolation in the life of prayer, she had a deep desire still to help the poor.

How old were you when you decided to become a Nun?

The first time I thought I might like to be a nun, I was 17. I made a final decision to follow this path as a religious when I was 28. Now that I know what a beautiful life it is to belong to the Lord, if I could choose all over again, I would have followed my first thought when I was 17!

Why did you become a Nun?

In a way, religious life isn’t something we choose, but that is chosen for us by God. God gives the gift of vocation to religious life to many, but not everyone who receives this gift responds. I would like to rephrase your question and ask, “Why did I respond to God’s gift and become a Nun?” I’ll give an example to explain.
 
I remember as a young girl, waiting for Christmas, and anticipating what gift I would receive. I had desires of what I might like to have, but sometimes, my mother chose a different present for me. At first when I opened the gift, I didn’t appreciate what she chose; but very quickly – every time – I realized how much better she had chosen for me than I could have chosen for myself.
 
I think this is a good analogy for religious life. God knows what is best, and He put this ‘gift’ – this call – to religious life inside of me from the time I was born. Through my life, I had to learn to appreciate what he chose for me before I could really see that it is the best life I could have for myself, and respond by accepting his ‘gift’. It was only in understanding God’s love for me, and that others needed to know of his love too, that I had a deep desire to follow Jesus and be His spouse, united to Him in his work. Jesus works through religious and priests to make the love of the Father known.  It is a challenging life, but it makes me very happy to belong to God as a nun.

Thank you, Emily, for asking such beautiful questions! If anyone else has a question they would like to add to Emily’s, we will be very happy to respond to them here! God bless!

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