By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Sister of Charity of Nazareth Carlette Gentle made her final profession of vows on Aug. 10 at St. Vincent Church on the motherhouse campus in Nazareth, Ky.
Sister Gentle is from Belize City, Belize, in Central America, and she will serve there as an SCN in ministry to the elderly.
Family members from Belize, including Sister Gentle’s mother and siblings, nieces, nephews and Godparents attended her profession Mass. Others watched the Mass from Belize where the ceremony was shown live via webcast.
Sister Gentle, who spoke to The Record on Aug. 8, said she and her family were excited about her final profession.
“I am part of a wonderful life and God made it for me,” she said. “The sisters are so supportive. My mom is more than thrilled. I am the first one in my family that’s becoming a religious.”
Sister Gentle, whose animated voice is prone to laughter, said she told her mother at age 9 that she wanted to be a nun. That desire gave way to other childish desires and later to her decision to become a chef. But the idea of religious life clung in the back of her mind, a nagging thought for most of her teenage years, she said.
She encountered the SCNs, volunteering with them, when she was 15 years old. She volunteered with the sisters more and more frequently and slowly began to ask them questions. She tried to ask them casually, wanting to keep her thoughts about religious life a secret, she said.
“I thought, ‘Wow,’ they (the sisters) are real people and they seemed so happy,” she recalled. “I think that’s what attracted me to the community. After a while, they became my second home.
“After I was finished with my associate’s degree in hotel and catering I decided to join fully,” she said. She began her year of candidacy in Belize in 2003 at age 22.
After that year, she spent a short time serving and living in West Louisville, and then began her novitiate at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and in a coeducational formation program for novices in Wisconsin. She completed her novitiate in Belize, in a rural area called Las Flores where she opened a preschool program.
During her formation, Sister Gentle earned a degree in social work and learned that she loves working with the elderly. She plans to open a new ministry in Belize City to aid elderly people. It will begin with home visits, but she hopes that one day the sisters can open a day center for older adults.
Describing herself, she said, and “I am loud, noisy and I love to have fun.”
“They used to call me Whoopi Goldberg from “Sister Act,” she said of her friends in Belize. But that’s OK, she said, because the sisters don’t mind. They want her as she is.
People also sometimes say to her, “ ‘You would be such a good wife and a good mother,’ ” she noted. “I say, ‘Think of all the children I can help. The world is my family; I get to work with the whole world.
“I want to help people, I want to be in community, I want God to be the center of my life,” she said. “People ask me why I’m so happy. If God is the center of your life you would be happy.”
In addition to Sister Gentle, eight women made final professions as SCNs this year in India. Sister Gentle attended their profession Mass on May 11 during a four-month trip to visit the SCN missions there.
Sister Paris Slapikas also renewed her vows Aug. 11.
There are currently 622 SCNs and 168 associate members serving in the United States, Belize, Botswana, India and Nepal. In Belize, there will be six sisters, including Sister Gentle.