Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio)
I have always met God closely in nature and beauty and ritual. Growing up in mid-Missouri I have spent time water skiing, swimming and fishing in its rivers and playing along the creeks and in the woods since I was able to walk. The solitude of those hours of silent beauty and imagination discovering creation took me into the heart of the Creator and the embrace of the One who is Incarnate—Jesus.
With an aunt who is a Sister of Loretto, and having Incarnate Word sisters as grade school teachers, I grew up knowing and loving Sisters. I am sure that helped to nurture my call to religious life. When my mother was asked to make a swimming suit for my second grade teacher, I knew the sisters must go swimming so I would be able to do things that keep me close to God if I ever became a Sister.
What drew me to religious life were the sisters I knew. I wanted to be like them and with them. I saw them as alive, fun-loving, and generous. They were happy women who cared about everyone else.
After I entered the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, getting used to the routine and discipline of prayer was different for me but not a foreign practice. My family practiced prayer together before and after meals, family rosaries, Perpetual Help Devotions on Tuesday evenings at our parish church, regular reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, Sunday Mass and for my parents, daily Mass before waking us kids. My parents seemed to live around a rhythm of prayer in daily life. So did the Sisters even if the practices may have been somewhat different. I had learned early in life to have a lot of fun, work hard and pray faithfully.
Over the years I have had a number of different ministries and with a wide variety of people. I taught high school chemistry to girls; was vocation director for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri; was vocation director for our Congregation in the United States; worked with the women and men religious as the Co-Vicar for Religious in the Archdiocese of St. Louis; served on our leadership team; was novice director; have been a spiritual director and process facilitator; and I am currently Pastoral Associate in a large parish with many young families. I have enjoyed all of my varied works but what keeps me happy and grounded is the spiritual journey on which my Lover God has invited me. These ministries have all allowed me to grow closer to God and I have been able to serve God’s people.
What an exciting adventure to come to know and deeply love God! It began in subtle ways when I lay on the ground in the autumn woods as a child. It was nurtured through years of encountering God through various forms of prayer and contemplation, and with graced opportunities to study theology and spirituality. My delight in planning and doing rituals and retreats encourages the gift of creativity, which gives me insight into the God beyond our imaginations.
As a woman religious, I take seriously our call to challenge the Church on the growing edges. One of these ways for me is to do all I can to empower women to know and own their place in the world, Church and society. For too many generations and in too many places women have stepped aside. Women need to embrace the unique gift they are and stand up, speak out and move to action to make the world a more just and peaceful place. The call and gift of committed women in the world can make the Word of God incarnate now.
My life is full and is always challenging me to greater conversion and personal transformation. Responding to the needs of our world today, means being aware of justice issues across the globe, but also among my own neighbors, many of whom are immigrants. When our Sisters signed the Earth Charter several years ago, I responded by planting a city garden at our home and I make every effort to care lovingly for our small yard. Care for the planet is a personal choice and I struggle with it daily. Thank God for all the women religious who share my dream. By supporting one another we can make change happen for the world. I am very blessed and deeply grateful to live my life as a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word. God certainly is faithful to Her promise to me and I can respond in faithfulness because I am so loved.