Franciscan Footprints

Vocation Stories of the Saints - St. Therese - Part 1

I have started and restarted this post so many times in the last few months.  Kind of picked big one for the second article of this vocation story series.  It meant I had to read her autobiography again, because the whole book is pretty much her vocation story.  There is a lot of material here, so I am going to break this article up into pieces. 

You know, when I first read St. Therese’s Story of a Soul when I was a kid, I really wasn’t very impressed.  Perhaps because she didn’t do many big exciting things.  But, rereading it has really helped me to see how very remarkable it is.

"And in any case, what I shall be doing is only what will be my task in eternity - telling over and over again the story of God's mercies to me."
(Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, chapter 1, page 1)

One thing to note when reading her autobiography is that it isn’t just a historical record of her life.  She is reflecting on her vocation and how God has brought her to this point. It was composed in three parts at the request of others.  (Much of it is on her childhood because she only started writing it because her superior, who was also her older sister, ordered her to write about her childhood.)  It is told by someone who has an intimate relationship with God; someone who views her whole life in the light of God’s love and His mercies to her.  Anyways, to really appreciate her autobiography, it helps to keep that in mind.  Hopefully, reflecting with St. Therese on her particular calling will help you to see your own.

When I read St. Therese’s story this time, I read it specifically looking for key points about her vocation.  I noticed things I hadn’t seen before.

Read more: Vocation Stories of the Saints - St. Therese - Part 1

Jubilee 2017 - Sister Joan Marie's 70th

Every year, on May 17th, the feast of St. Paschal Baylon, we honor and celebrate our sisters' anniversaries in Religious Life.

Communities don't all count this in the same way. It may be from admission as a postulant, reception into the novitiate, or profession of vows. This year we are celebrating Sister Joan Marie's 70th year in religious life.  That is 70 years since she she was admitted as a postulant, on March 21, 1947.

She earned a Bachelors degree in Business and a Masters in Hospital Administration. Over her 70 years with us, she has served as an accountant and internal auditor, a hospital administrator, and as Director of Quality Improvement for our OSF Healthcare System. 

Aside from her various roles in our health care apostolate, she has also served as the liaison between the presbyteral council of the Diocese of Peoria and the religious sisters of the diocese.

Sister enjoyed her day: the special Mass with the Bishop and many priests, and visiting with her family and friends, and her sisters.

You can read the announcement in the Catholic Post here (on page B13) along with Sisters comments on what she values most in religious life and her advice to young women discerning the call.

Sister Joan Marie OSF as a Novice

Read more: Jubilee 2017 - Sister Joan Marie's 70th

Vocation Stories of the Saints - Our Blessed Mother

Annunciation by Sister Mechtildis OSF - circa 1950It seemed only right to start this series with Our Blessed Mother Mary.  She has been given to us as our mother and model. So maybe her vocation story can tell us about how our discernment should go, under ideal circumstances.

What do we really know about her discernment?  There isn’t a whole lot written about it in the bible, but I think there is still much that can be learned from the account.

Let’s take a look at the account of the annunciation, Luke 1:26-38.  It would probably be best if you first read it through once, looking at it from a vocation perspective.

I’ll wait until you’re done. 

Ok, so let’s walk through the account together.

So, God sends an angel - An angel is a heavenly messenger from God.  We may not actually see an angel from heaven. God may send us an earthly messenger, or an angel may work in ways we don’t see. 

To Nazareth in Galilee – Which was really nowhere special.  By earthly standards Mary was not exceptional.  She was a poor girl from ordinary folk.

To a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph – She was not yet finally committed to anyone, but she definitely already had plans for her life.

Hail, highly favored one (or full of grace depending on your translation) – This is an honor.  She has been specially chosen. 

Do not be afraid – Ok, I am going to go out on a limb here, but, I’m going to assume that Gabriel knew what he was talking about.  I’m thinking that he said that because Mary was afraid.  Mary!  So if you are afraid when you first feel God calling you to follow Him a particular way, you’re in good company.  

Read more: Vocation Stories of the Saints - Our Blessed Mother

Vocation Stories of the Saint (Series)

Annunciation Window at OSF St FrancisI don’t know about you, but I find the lives of the saints so inspiring.  I also like to hear other peoples’ vocation stories.  When I was discerning my religious vocation I found them helpful, but even now, I find them inspiring.  It is beautiful to see the many different ways God reveals Himself in our lives, how He speaks to us.

Young people who are trying to figure out where they belong often ask me, “How do you know?”  You can see the anxiety, confusion, and frustration on their faces.  Some have been looking for years, others, just starting.  Well, there is no cookie cutter answer, ‘cuz we’re not cookies!  God has made us all unique, and they ways he handles us are not the same.  That doesn’t mean there is no way to know what He wants of us, and we can still learn from the experiences of others.

Along that train of thought, I have been pondering for a while about writing a series of blog posts on the vocation stories of the saints.  They too had to “figure out” what God was asking of them.  They heard God’s call in different ways.  Their responses varied as well.

So, I plan (hope) to post on a saint’s vocation story once a month for the next several months.  I have a few in mind already: Our Lady, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Jeanne Jugan…

What are your favorite saint vocation stories?

Why St. Francis is Often Depicted with a Wolf

Francis and wolfWhen I first began discerning with the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, I’ll admit, I knew very, very little about their Franciscan ways: Saint Francis loved animals, our new pontiff is Pope Francis and Saint Francis is frequently referenced in environmental and sustainability concerns; but not much else.  Oh, and that they wore brown.  (Well, maybe I knew a little bit more, but compared to now, after living with a Franciscan community for nearly a year, I knew NOTHING.)

Really, when I began discerning my religious vocation, it wasn’t till I sat down and did a “vocation quiz” online & communities were matched with my interests and desires, did I start researching the differences between the Benedictines, Dominicans or Franciscans or any other order.

Here’s one of my favorite stories about Saint Francis:

The Story of St. Francis & the Wolf at Gubbio

In this story, a fierce wolf was terrorizing the village of Gubbio, in northeastern Italy.  Not only would it eat animals, even humans were attacked to satisfy its hunger.  One day, while Saint Francis was in the village, the people told them of this ferocious beast and warned him not to leave the town’s walls.

Read more: Why St. Francis is Often Depicted with a Wolf

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