My little girl wants to be a Sister?! 3 tips for parents


Sheila, Megan’s mom, spoke to me when I visited her parish. She was dumbstruck. How could Megan, her youngest, the dependable one, surprise her this way? Megan was valedictorian at St. Mechtild’s. She’s doing well in college, a peer minister and teaching assistant, preparing for a super internship.  It was a bolt from the blue when Megan told her mom,  “I’m thinking of becoming a Sister.”

It’s not that Sheila doesn’t value the Sisters, although she’s never really known one. She wished there was one at her parish, or the kids’ school. She prays the vocation prayer at Mass quite fervently:  “Lord, choose from our homes those needed for your work.” But she didn’t mean Megan – not funny, generous, lively Megan!

Website advice helped Sheila a little. The Washington Archdiocese site understood her confusion; they even anticipated her feelings:  Why didn’t Megan talk to me first? Won’t she be lonely without a husband? Is she religious enough? But their answers were generic and unsatisfying.  The Dallas Diocese gave her practical tips:  Be supportive and informed, don’t badger Megan about her vocation or assume it’s just a phase.  Sheila wants the best for her. She’s doing her best to follow the expert advice. But she’s struggling.

“What about my turmoil?” she asks. “I’ve spent years preparing to be mother-of-the-bride and grandma, not mother of Sister Megan – or whatever, Sister Mary Anthony.” The websites didn’t help her cope with her own feelings – work she needs to do if she’s going to support and help Megan the way she wants. .

While we were talking, I suggested three realistic things Sheila could do: Continue reading

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Remembering the First Earth Day – April 22, 1970

Headlines in spring 1970.

Headlines in spring 1970.

My memory of the first Earth Day in 1970 are vague. I was consumed with the task of choosing a major, required of sophomores at my small southern Minnesota college. The world was already crammed with urgent issues. Legislation for Civil Rights (1964), Voting Rights (1965) and Fair Housing (1968) was new, with frequent battles to implement it.  Political violence was a reality in America, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinated just two years before. Demonstrations, whether about the Vietnam War, civil rights, poverty, or other issues, often prompted armed responses. Just 12 days later, Ohio National Guardsmen shot 13 students at an anti-war protest at Kent State; four died.  Environmentalism seemed less urgent; many thought Earth Day would be a one-time event.

But students rallied and learned across the country.  We saw images of the Cuyahoga River on fire as it Continue reading

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Vocation and Transition


Dr. Kathleen Cahalan

I attended The Grammar of Vocation, a Theology Day with Kathleen Cahalan at St. John’s University.  Dr. Cahalan gave us much to think (and blog) about; I expect to post more from this talk.   Probably because of my transition from being a college professor into vocation ministry, the section of the presentation on transitions resonated with me.

Kathleen Cahalan organized her ideas around a set of prepositions that we can use with vocation. Most obvious is “TO” — God calls us to do or to be something.  We rarely think of a call — a vocation — “FROM” something. Yet, at least for adults, every call to something new is inherently a call from whatever one was doing before.

Every New Call Begins With Loss

No matter how exciting, desirable or welcome the new role or place to which God calls a person, that vocation also includes the work of leaving. Relationships must be shifted, goodbyes said, projects finished or given over to someone else. In western culture, we tend to Continue reading

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