An Uncertain Path for Olympians … and Discerners

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Several of us have been following the Olympics every night. What an inspiring show! These elite athletes have trained and practiced their sport most of their lives and are at the top of their career. They are amazing.

Yet, the athletes – as all of us – are subject to variables they cannot control. They must face uncertain weather conditions and the potential for disaster at the beginning of every event. Their performance can be completely derailed – and their career ended – by a simple miscalculation as they battle through unexpected rain or blinding snow. Continue Reading

Q and A: Sister Stefanie on family, ministry, daily life

You entered in your 30s, after establishing your career, enjoying life in your own apartment with your own stuff, being active in your parish. You had a lot of friends and could go out with them any time. You also were very active in your family, taking your nephews on adventures and vacations whenever you wished. How did entering the convent change or affect this?

I did go home less, but that’s true of whatever new family you become a part of. That said, my birth family is very important to me. I chose this community in part because it was welcoming of family involvement. I quit discerning with another community because it only allowed limited contact with birth families. Continue Reading

How I heard my call to religious life

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Lately I have had a number of people ask how I knew I had a call to religious life. Boy, I always find this hard to explain. I can explain how I chose this particular community. It felt like home; I was comfortable. But the call itself? That’s hard to articulate.

Michael Casey’s book, The Road to Eternal Life, helps. He says, “First of all, we are invited to ask ourselves, ‘Am I the sort of person who is truly seeking the fullness of life and happiness?’ and to hear what answer to this question resounds in the depths of our hearts.”

Wow, he’s right. But how do we get there? How do we hear the answer? Continue Reading

Going from "No" to "Yes" in One Summer Afternoon

As a Catholic girl growing up in Peoria, Ill., Margaret Mary “Marmee” McGrath (shown in red at left) never dreamed of becoming a nun. Nicknamed for the mother in Little Women (“My mother loved that book!”), Marmee attended Catholic school, prayed the rosary before morning Mass, and helped her teacher Sisters keep the sanctuary clean. She also had 2 cousins enter religious life.

During her junior year in high school, Marmee’s choir director even asked her point blank, “Have you ever thought of religious life?” Marmee said simply, No.

“And the question didn’t get me started thinking about it, either,” she laughs today. Continue Reading

Responding to a Nagging Sense of "Something More"

From the beginning of recorded time, living as a religious Sister has been countercultural. We give up our possessions … our bank accounts … our cars. We take on a new set of priorities. We take on a new set of responsibilities.

In other words, it’s no longer about “me.” It’s about “we.”

What might make someone take such a radical, countercultural step? It’s sure not the salary. (There is none.) It’s not the easy lifestyle. (We begin our days before dawn in chapel for Lauds.) It’s not the nightlife. (Unless that’s what you call a rousing game of cards on Community Night!) Continue Reading

Decision-Making 101: These Nuns Wouldn't Send me to Africa!

It was halfway through the summer of 1948. Marilyn Ring had graduated from high school and now was watching as her friends prepared to leave for secretarial school, marriage and the convent. Despite an active faith life that had included daily Mass and a fabulous Catholic youth group experience at Peoria’s Academy of Our Lady, nothing called to her.
Continue Reading