2) How were your parents impacted by your vocation?
Initially my mom was disappointed because I was the oldest girl and she really relied on me and trusted me to help out with my siblings. My dad thought that if I was happy, then it was a good thing. Both are very supportive now. I do have to choose between family and community and ministry at times because I just can’t be everywhere and doing everything. Big community meetings and serious ministry commitments have to come first. I do go camping with my family, watch my nieces and nephews play sports, gather for parties, etc.
3) What is a good hint to vocation/signs to look for other than paying attention? How do you know what vocation is speaking to you? How do you know that you have been called?
Look for what you truly enjoy doing and have a passion for…service, prayer, community life are all needed for religious life. Being excited and having your heart at peace when you seriously think about doing something for a very long time is another indication.
4) Do you get paid a lot? Not to be rude…
I never get paid, my community gets all the money since I take a vow of poverty. But, my basic needs are met and I can request money from the community if I have a serious need. Fortunately the rewards that come in other forms far outweigh the monetary income.
5) What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I really like baseball nut and chocolate chip mint.
6) Just wondering, what is the church’s view on marrying someone with a different religion? It is allowed?
It is allowed in special circumstances, but approval must be given. We definitely prefer that two Catholics marry so that they can support each other, raise their children in the faith, understand and respect our beliefs, etc. Marriage to people of other traditions brings all kinds of challenges like which faith are the children raised in, which church is attended, having different beliefs about very important things like the Eucharist, life issues, etc.
7) Sister Chris: What is it like to be a sister? Do you get a cool outfit?
Being a sister is a great life. I get to serve God’s people in a huge variety of ways, prayer is central to our lives and I get to live in community with other sisters who support and challenge me. I am extremely happy as a sister because I found the community that fits me best. As for a cool outfit, each community chooses what it wears…mine chooses to dress simply as those in our society who are low income would dress.
8) How many siblings do you have?
I have 8 siblings for a total of 9 of us…3 girls and 6 boys.
9) How do you deal with the fears that come with commitment?
First, I pray. Second, I talk with my spiritual director. Third, I talk with my sisters in community. Fourth, I talk with other friends I trust. All of these people, including God, help me to find what is real fear that I need to pay attention to and what is excitement or nervousness at doing something new or permanent. If there is peace underneath the “fear” then it is probably excitement and nervousness that we all experience when doing something new, different, permanent, challenging, etc. The people in my life that I mentioned above help me discern this or figure it out. If it is real fear, then, also with these people, I discern why I am fearful and what the best response for me is. I might not need to make that commitment. I might need to face the fear and take the risk. In religious life we don’t make a permanent commitment for about 8 years after entering so why not try it out and see if it is a good fit.
We don’t have a lot of good examples in our lives of permanent commitment. People tend to get divorced frequently, change jobs a lot, even switch majors and universities many times, etc. I try to look to my sisters in community, my parents and grandparents, and others in our society who made a permanent, long-lasting commitment. My parents have been married 58 years. Some priests, brothers and sisters are also good examples for me along with many saints.
10) How can I, if at all, make my own vocation? Can our vocation change?
I’m not sure what you mean by making your own vocation. A vocation is a call from God so we need to listen to what it is God is asking of us. There are many, many ways to respond…married, single, religious, ordained. As a religious I can be cloistered, active, consecrated virgin and more. By listening to your heart, to God and to all the people I mentioned in my previous answer, I can figure out what is the best fit for me, the best type of commitment.
Yes, our vocation can change. Some people have been called to a certain vocation for many years then end up switching for a variety of reasons. Some people may have been married but their spouse died so then they enter religious or ordained life. Some are single for a long time and then get married. When I work with people in discernment, I watch and listen for too many changes in their vocation and the reasons for the changes…some are good reasons while others are not.
12) Did you ever doubt that your vocation wasn’t actually right for you?
I have never had any serious doubts because I prayed hard, did my research, visited communities, etc. before I entered. When I entered I went with the attitude that I was going to be very serious about it and possibly be there for life. I think if we go into something half-hearted or already looking for a way out or excuse to leave, then we often fulfill in action what we were already thinking.
14) How come you can’t get married if you’re a nun or a priest?
We make a commitment to God, our community and to God’s people. Part of this is giving our heart, soul and body to God. It allows us to respond to the needs of God’s people more freely and quickly. If I had a family, home, etc. to be responsible for, I can’t be as free and open to what God might ask me to do like change ministries, move, go on mission, etc. Much of my energy, time and attention is appropriately on my family responsibilities.
15) What sacrifices did you have to make for your vocation?
I love kids and would have been a great mother, but I knew that as a sister this wasn’t going to be. I would also enjoy being able to afford to have a log cabin, a horse, a boat and many other material things, but these are temporal things. My relationship with God and God’s people are the greatest gifts and rewards. I don’t have to worry about insuring my belongings, maintaining them, etc. which would also take more time and money.
16) What was the most helpful thing you heard/ did to grow your own Catholic faith?
Participating in youth group, church, and other church activities like choir and lecturing all helped. I needed to be prepared to proclaim the readings on Sunday so I read them and prayed with them. Choir put me in relationship with some great people and I paid attention to the words of the songs and put my heart into them since singing is like praying twice. Youth group taught me much about my faith, service, and church involvement can be fun as well as educational.
17) What is the point of life?
I believe the point of life is to be in love. This love of God, self, others and creation leads me to be in relationship and service. My life would be pretty empty without this.
19) Sister Chris: I feel like I’m called to be a nun—what should I do?
To begin with, pray. If you are struggling with prayer, talk to someone like Fr. Kevin, Chelsea, or me. It is amazing how answers come to us when we slow down and listen to God.
Talk with a vocation director like myself. Depending on your age we can meet and begin to look at this seriously. Chelsea or Fr. Kevin can put you in touch with me or someone else.
Get a spiritual director. I had my first spiritual director when I was 16 and a junior in high school. I can help you with this, too.
Again, depending on age, check out different religious communities by going on Come and See retreats, visiting with them, talking with them at events and gatherings, etc. Vocation Network is a great place to start, but remember, there are over 600 communities of women in the US. Think about the kind of prayer you prefer, what kind of ministry you want, where you want to live, etc. All of this impacts what you will choose. If you are younger, things will change for you over the years as you grow and mature. Things even change for adults, but usually not as drastically.