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Office for Religious
Who are Women Religious?
Women religious are single laywomen consecrated to God in faith through public profession of vows. They are women of hope who choose to live the call of creation and baptism in a lifestyle centered around prayer, community and ministry. If you find yourself searching for meaning in life that gives witness to the Gospel values of Jesus, this way of life could be one of your considerations.
What do you do all day?
Prayer, work, leisure time and meals are the framework of any day.
The variety of ways in which these happen differ from community to community. The “work part” is dependent on the training, background and interests of the person. Sisters are active in a variety of ministries (work— in shelters and food programs for the poor, in parishes, child care centers, social action centers, missions, legal offices, schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly and in many more areas of service! Sharing life in community happens through prayer, meetings, celebrations and enjoyment of leisure time together and with others. A good means of finding out about this way of life is to talk with a sister who can tell you about the lives of individual sisters she knows.
How important is prayer in your life?
Prayer is very important in the lives of those who live in the framework of a religious community. Some prayer is said together with the people who live at the same location while some prayer is said alone, with reading and openness to the presence of God. Prayer is the way we are open to God in our lives and our understanding of the needs of the world. It draws us into gratitude and trust in God as we live our lives in the service of God’s people. Religious communities provide a framework for daily Eucharist, communal and private prayer experiences. Prayer is the sustaining and unifying force in the lives of the members of a community. As a daily priority it nourishes one’s deepening union with God.
Is prayer always easy for you?
No. Our lives are busy with responsibilities and a variety of activities that take much of our time. Prayer requires time set aside and attention to our unseen God as we make every effort to be more closely united to God. A contemplative, reflective attitude as we go about the activities of the day helps draw us into that loving relationship which we call prayer.
How do I know for sure that I have a religious vocation?
You might not know for sure! If you seem drawn to a relationship with God and service to God’s people, that’s a good start. Prayer, community life and a love of the ministry of a particular community may appeal to you. If so, these may be good indicators of a religious vocation—a possibility you may wish to investigate further. Often, as you become familiar with a religious community, you will have experiences that will help you understand the nature of that life. Prayer to grow in understanding of your call to that way of life is called discernment. Through that prayer, in asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will have further insights into your question of, “Is it right for me?” It is helpful to use your imagination to look into your future and ask: “Can I picture myself happily living life in a certain religious community?” Does this seem to fire my heart’s desire?
What if i am afraid of making a life commitment?
That’s not an uncommon feeling! If you are being drawn in a heartfelt way to the life you see being lived by a particular community, you can trust in the formation program of that community to help you look at that lifetime commitment more clearly. The formation program is designed to help candidates and novices to consider carefully those things they find challenging—and, frightening. You’ll never know if this is the way of life to which you are being called unless you test it!
Why is it that some women religious dress in uniform clothing and others do not?
There are many communities of women religious in the United States. Their choice of clothing is made in relation to the mission of their communities. There are a variety of ways women in religious communities dress. Those who are dressed in uniform attire indicate that this is a mark of their identity as members of a particular religious community and that it gives witness to their chosen commitment to God. Further reasons include a relationship to the history, the intention and the spirit of the founding community, and that uniform clothing is less expensive than contemporary clothing. Members of religious communities who wear contemporary clothing relate their choice to the mission and ministry of their communities. Also, this choice indicates that when their communities were founded, the members were dressed as the common people. Over the years, communities have found it necessary to make changes in their choice of dress, but the decision is always related to the community’s mission and ministry within the church.
For further information contact:
Office for Religious
429 East Grandview Blvd.
P.O. Box 10397
Erie, PA 16514-0397
Phone: 814.824.1125 • Fax: 814.824.1124
E-mail: Joan Fye
E-mail: Sr. Nancy Fischer