When Pope Francis announced that 2015 would be a year dedicated to the celebration of consecrated life, he asked the Church’s religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, hope, and service.
At that time, I was living in Bayside, New York and ministering as the Director of Pastoral Care at a large nursing home. One of our parishioners asked me to write my vocation story as a consecrated woman. My initial response was “not me I’m no writer!” But God kept needling me during prayer to write down my thoughts. Again when a request was made for vocation stories my thoughts went back to “not me I’m no writer!” But God works in unusual ways. He knows what He wants of each of us.
Psalm 139 comes to mind for me:
“O my beloved, You have searched me and know me…You discern my inmost thoughts…You know my strengths and weaknesses. More than I know myself do you know me; my essence was not hidden from You…”
Growing up, I had the good fortune to be exposed to religious Sisters and Priests. In fact, my father’s cousin was a Sister of St. Joseph of Boston and, they the time I was in high school, she was approaching me about a religious vocation. While I was drawn to the idea, I was also interested in caring for children.
One weekend, my sister picked up a pamphlet from our parish church and left it on our dining room table. I picked it up and began to read. It was about the Daughters of Charity and their charism of service to the poor, particularly their service to children in a children’s home. This seemed like a sign from above! The Lord was leading me.
For some time, I kept my thoughts in the depth of my heart and prayed that, if the Lord wanted this, He would provide an opportunity for me to meet a Daughter of Charity. Well, He did provide!
While worked at my first job in a department store, I began chatting with a young woman I worked with. The conversation led to plans after high school. She responded, “I am entering the Daughters of Charity.” My breath was taken away! I told her my story and she introduced me to the Daughters of Charity at Laboure Center.
For two years, I volunteered and served children and the elderly with the Sisters. Although my initial attraction was the ministry of service to the poor, I grew to realize I was also drawn to the Sisters deep commitment to living in community, sharing prayer, and working alongside one another.
In the spring of 1962, I attended the Marian Congress in Emmitsburg, Maryland and it was there that I became convinced the Lord was calling me to become a Daughter of Charity. Upon completion of high school, I entered the Daughters of Charity.
As a Daughter of Charity, I am called to a life lived in Community for the service of the poor. My relationship with God is at the heart of my calling and, through my life in Community, I am supported by my Sisters. My Community Life nurtures my spirit and strengthens my relationship with God. We live a life of humility and simplicity, dedicated to charity. Christ’s unwavering compassion and selfless generosity energizes my spirit. Our vows are simple and are made annually. By making a special vow of service to the poor along with vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, we continually reaffirm our devotion to God. I am most blessed to have been called to be a Daughter of Charity.
- Sister Joanne Donovan, D.C.