For at least a decade, the Diocese of Orlando Vocations Office has offered young women who are discerning a vocation to religious life an opportunity to visit religious communities in the region, offering a glimpse into their everyday lives. This year’s “Nun Run” visited the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orlando, the Sisters of Notre Dame in Winter Garden, and the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Altamonte Springs.
Five young women ages 15-20 spent the day of March 10 visiting the three unique communities. Over a simple meal, the sisters shared the charism of their community, their vocation stories and the order’s history. Together they prayed Morning and Afternoon Prayer, the Rosary, and the sisters shared about their life and spirituality. Then, they answered all questions from the discerners.
The group ranged from those who had been discerning a vocation for about two years, such as Nicole, 16, from Holy Cross Parish in Orlando, to Sara, 20, a parishioner at St. Peter Parish in Deland who has been on the journey for five years. Sara noted, “I really liked seeing the convent where the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary live because I really like seeing the full habited sisters”—something she had never seen before. “Seeing where they lived was nice and asking about their routine was helpful.” Sara explained, “I’ve been stressing over what order to join, what really helped was when they said, as soon as you find the convent where you fit, even in the intricate parts, it feels like home.”
Nicole said her favorite part was discovering, “It felt good to know that they’re just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s the kind of life I see myself living.” All enjoyed the devotion of each order and how they live out their charism. The Sisters of Notre Dame explained why the sunflower is prominent in their order stating the prayer: “As the sunflower follows every movement of the Sun, so I turn to you to follow you, my God.” Sister Pat Sipan, S.N.D. explained the order’s evolution from being teachers to later determining the skills and interests of each and where they can serve within the charism of “proclaiming God’s goodness in provident care.”
The small group asked questions about everything from professions, choosing a name, hobbies, and the reason for wearing a habit or not. At the Sisters of St. Joseph, they were able to see the handiwork of associate director of vocations for the Diocese of Orlando, Sister Kathleen Power’s French bobbin lace making, something she does because it is how her order originally raised funds to support themselves.
Sister Power, S.S.J. indicated that the Nun Run began in the U.S. about 20 years when doing runs or big walks for non-profit organizations was very popular. “Religious communities were invited to walk on a particular day in support of vocations to religious life,” she said. People supported the walkers by donating per mile, helping support vocations.
However, Sister Power, SSJ noted that a woman contemplating a vocation does not need to wait for a Nun Run. She can simply call her at 407-246-4928, to arrange for convent visits. And above all, added Sister Maria Teresa Acosta, S.C.T.J.M., “Keep knocking. Keep looking. Be open and don’t be afraid. We are going to be happy with what the Lord wants for us.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – March 12, 2018