Vocation Awareness Week — A religious vocation is a true gift

Sister Sarah Yungwirth O.S.B.
Associate director of the vocation office

By Sister Sarah Yungwirth O.S.B.

It is a joy to work each day with young people as they strive to discover where God is leading them — taking the time to ask themselves important questions.

Women often ask questions such as: “What is life like as a sister?” “If God is calling me to be a sister, where do I even begin to look?” “I feel called to be married, but how do I know if he is the right one?” “If God is calling me to be single, what will that look like in the future?”

These questions and others like them are great for young people to be asking as they seek to discover God’s unique call for them.

When I speak about religious life, I share these words that I now want to pass on to you. If there is anything I want you, the reader, to take away from my writing, it is this: God has a plan for you, whatever stage you are in life or wherever life’s journey has taken you to this point. God’s plan won’t always be easy, but it will be filled with a peace and joy that only he can provide. Life has disappointments, yes, even in religious life. But, God desires your happiness more than you desire it for yourself, and God knows you better than you know yourself. God’s plan brings hope, transformation and meaning.

Only when God leads the way can there be abundant joy, life and fulfillment. God’s plan for you is personal. The way God brings meaning to your life is going to be different than anyone else, but it is a beautiful adventure that you won’t regret!

God has blessed religious sisters with three vows that each makes in order to live out her call. These can be misunderstood, but are gifts that lead to wholeness, growth and deep happiness.

Obedience is about listening — listening to God, listening to the wisdom of one’s religious community, listening to the wisdom that God plants in the people all around.

Celibate chastity opens the sister’s heart to a deeper love of Christ and an openness to share that love with everyone she encounters. It is not about loneliness, but openness to abundant love for and in everyone.

Poverty helps the sister to remember that she is dependent upon God for everything and that everything she receives and in creation is a true gift. It frees her to strive not to cling to things, but to have a spirit of gratitude that flows from and grows out of true love. God will not be outdone in generosity.

So, when someone comes to you and says she is thinking about being a religious sister, please listen and be open. And, if you notice gifts in someone that you feel may be called to religious life, please say something to her. It often takes a person several times of hearing it!

And, if you are feeling a divine nudge, don’t be afraid to consider it.

My life has been totally changed for the better by saying yes to God’s call for me. Each day is a new chance to renew that yes with joy, hope and trust.

Sister Sarah Yungwirth is the associate director of the vocation office in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

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