Thanks to the witness of parish, parents and teachers for showing me what faith looks likes. St. Peter’s, now Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, valued Catholic education, and I was nurtured in Catholic values and Catholic social teaching, by examples of service and advocacy, from an early age through my high school graduation from Lourdes High School.
It was one of my teachers at Lourdes who asked me whether I ever thought of being a religious sister. I was amazed when I said “yes.” I didn’t know where that “yes” came from. Now, I know it must have been the Spirit moving me. About seven years later, the call returned when a friend mentioned that she was thinking of becoming a sister. I was ready and mature enough to look at this desire that still was in my heart and explore it.
I later joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSNDs) in 1988. They were the sisters who taught me at Lourdes. I was attracted to their value of community and their missionary spirit of responding to the needs of the time. We are in 34 countries with the desire to go where the needs and the Spirit lead us. As a School Sister of Notre Dame, I minister as a social worker.
In this year that Pope Francis has designated as the Year for Consecrated Life, think of who has helped form your Catholic faith. The world needs you to help continue shaping the next generation of Catholics. Could the Spirit be calling you, your child or grandchild to be sister, brother, priest, deacon or lay minister? Thank you for being there when I needed you all the most and did not know it!
–by Sister Mary Swanson, SSND, firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the School Sisters of Notre Dame at www.ssnd.org.