Becoming sister

Am I called?

When speaking about their vocation, some sisters talk about a moment when something just clicked or recount foundational memories. Others tell of having simply chosen what made them happy. In all sincerity, the sisters sometimes admit their doubts and hesitations. There is no one model or road that is mapped out. There is no diagram! But there is a need to take a step back, to find the necessary distance to be able to listen to my deepest desire and then to sense that what I desire is also what God desires for me.

And what about me? Am I called?

If I feel the need to put God at the centre of my life.

If I feel the call to a life totally given to Christ, unified.

Prayer allows me to listen to God and to myself in order to discover what I desire in my depths, what is life-giving for me. I can draw on spiritual accompaniment to help me review my life and to discern how Christ is calling me.

If I feel close to the Cenacle Sisters, to their spirituality, to what they live, I could ask to meet a sister or a community. I could...

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When speaking about their vocation, some sisters talk about a moment when something just clicked or recount foundational memories. Others tell of having simply chosen what made them happy. In all sincerity, the sisters sometimes admit their doubts and hesitations. There is no one model or road that is mapped out. There is no diagram! But there is a need to take a step back, to find the necessary distance to be able to listen to my deepest desire and then to sense that what I desire is also what God desires for me.

And what about me? Am I called?

If I feel the need to put God at the centre of my life.

If I feel the call to a life totally given to Christ, unified.

Prayer allows me to listen to God and to myself in order to discover what I desire in my depths, what is life-giving for me. I can draw on spiritual accompaniment to help me review my life and to discern how Christ is calling me.

If I feel close to the Cenacle Sisters, to their spirituality, to what they live, I could ask to meet a sister or a community. I could also come to participate in a quiet day or a retreat.

Becoming sister 4
The formation takes place in several stages
Sisters' testimonies
Frequently asked questions: interview with sister Michèle
Q Have you always wanted to be a nun?
A

Not at all! First of all, because I was born into an atheist family. I discovered Christ when I was 16 years old and I was baptised at 18. It took me 12 years of searching to find my way! And it was only at the age of 30 that I joined the Cenacle Communities.

Q What prompted you to make this choice?
A

At the time of my conversion, I would have liked to be a priest! But as for a woman, at present this is not possible, I sought a Community where I could live a true ministry of the Word by preaching retreats, by spiritual accompaniment. I discovered Ignatian spirituality as a path of freedom, where one can build one’s life on the deep desire of one’s heart. In discovering Christ, I wanted to consecrate my life to letting myself be loved by him and to make him known and loved.

Q What do you do all day long?
A

Not one day is like another! That’s great, for me who doesn’t like repetition! And it’s different, depending on the type of mission we’re living, but also different for each of us! There are the essentials of all life: but yes! the sisters sleep, they take meals and do all the daily gestures like everyone else. I won’t go into detail!

The most specific is in the morning, a 20 minute community prayer time. Then (for me, it takes place in the morning), there is an hour of contemplation, it is called prayer. And in the evening there is community prayer, followed by thirty minutes of silent adoration. The rest is work. Without forgetting relaxation, and everything that can make a life. For work, it’s really different depending on the day, depending on the type of mission you have. For me at the moment it’s: preparing a retreat, an intervention, spiritual and intellectual support to foreign nuns, contributing to the website, offering spiritual accompaniment… I’ve only told you the tenth!

Q Do you decide what your mission is and where you are going to live?
A

We are not in the army! The key words of our way of life are: inner freedom (availability), discernment, dialogue. This is lived with the Provincial Sister who is in charge of the unity and dynamism of our communities. We can open up to her according to a personal desire, she can propose a change of mission and community according to the needs that arise, the calls that are made to us. This is decided in prayer and dialogue. It cannot be “forced and coerced” because it would have no chance of success! And what we are all looking for is a mission where we can realise the talents that are within us, in a happy way. This can take time, the time of the Spirit who little by little allows us to open our hearts to the new.

Q When you want to buy something, are you free to do so, do you have money at your disposal, or do you have to ask permission?
A

Behind this question, so many clichés about religious life as a place of unfreedom! To answer this question, we must first of all say that religious life proposes an original economic model based on the sharing of goods: we put our goods in common. Then, each year, we draw up a personal provisional budget which is used to build a community provisional budget. It is discussed among ourselves, with the sister in charge of the community. For the budget, as for the rest, discernment is the key word. What do I need? What is useful and good? To what extent can I make donations to Associations?

After that, it is up to us to manage our budget. We each have a bank card to make our purchases and withdraw cash.

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Q Do you sometimes feel lonely? Do you sometimes regret not having a spouse or not being married?
A

I really like being alone. Solitude is a precious commodity when it has been chosen. Going back to your room alone means finding intimacy with yourself. I am never bored. I also feel how important community life is: a place for sharing, support, mutual enrichment, a place to learn to respect differences.

Q Are you sad not to have children?
A

Not really. One day, in a supermarket, I witnessed a scene of tenderness between a mother and her child. That day, yes, I said to myself, “you won’t live it…” but our apostolic life is rich in relationships and real friendships.

Q What difficulties do you encounter as a nun?
A

I have experienced difficulties, like everyone else. Life is never a long quiet river. A mission with young people in chaplaincy has been difficult, but like others can experience this in their work.

Difficulties that would be linked to being a religious? Perhaps when faith is not a given, when one walks a little in the night when one has based one’s life on it…And then there are the difficulties as a religious and as a woman. Difficulties in remaining in a Roman Catholic Church which has not taken the measure of the change in the model of the relationship between men and women and which remains in a position of male monopoly of governance. It is making progress, but can do better!

Q What helps you overcome them?
A

My attachment, my love of Christ. The prayer where I find a loving God, listening. Community life where we help each other. The fact of being spiritually accompanied to have a place to speak.

At one point in my religious life, I did some psychological work when I realised that elements of my family history were disrupting my present life…and this was very beneficial.

Q How do you experience relationships with others, knowing that you will leave them a few years later to live elsewhere?
A

We live in community, but we have many opportunities to meet the Sisters of other communities: committee work, assembly meetings, chapter meetings, holidays, and bonds of friendship which are maintained in a free way. So we do not lose sight of each other!

Q Can one be fully happy being a nun?
A

YES. But happiness is a responsibility, like a garden to maintain. This applies to every state of life. Religious life has many assets for happiness: faith, the certainty of being loved, a meaning to life, an exciting job, the richness of community relations, etc.

Soeur Kate 3
Contact a sister
Sister Katharine STOGDON
contact@ndcenacle.org
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