By: Emily Thome
“I wasn’t born in this habit… I was a girl just like you,” began Sr. Clare Matthiass, C.F.R. as she addressed a crowd of 250 at a Mother Daughter Luncheon put on by Fiat Ministries and the St. Peter’s group of Little Flowers on Sunday, December 3rd.
To those in attendance, Sr. Clare spoke briefly about her personal vocation story, but focused mainly on encouraging the young girls to seek out God’s Will for their lives. She said that when she turned 18 she learned a “secret” that she shared with the crowd. “God has a plan for you… before you were born He dreamed a dream of what your life would be like. And, it is beautiful. And, it is good.” As such, she pointed out that the response God is looking for to the dream He has for each of us is a “yes” like Mary’s; a “yes” which gives an authentic witness of God to the world, no matter the vocation.
In addition to speaking about discernment in general, Sr. Clare also highlighted the relevance of consecrated life: “Consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s poverty, chastity, and obedience in a world in so desperate need of that witness today.” Further, she explained that in a society where so many feel alone and unwanted, sisters “accompany people throughout all stages of their lives… there is never an unwanted or unloved person when a sister is around.”
After Sister’s talk, the attendees watched a short video about the beauty of consecrated life—For Love Alone—which covered the lives and charisms of 16 different religious communities. This was followed by a panel discussion (composed of 2 IHM and 2 CFR sisters) who candidly answered questions about what it is like to be a religious sister. Their honesty, authenticity, and joy were contagious!
As a Catholic in attendance, I was overwhelmed by all the sisters’ authentic “yes” to God in their lives. As a mother of four young daughters who were also in attendance, I was overwhelmed by gratitude for the opportunity my girls had to witness the joy and beauty of what a life lived as a sister—truly and totally giving themselves to Jesus—looks like. This gratitude flows from a deep desire shared by many other mothers: a desire for our children to follow the Lord with all their hearts and to fulfill the dream he has dreamt for each of them.
I know my girls will only succeed if all of their options are presented. The vocation of wife and mother is never far from a little girl’s thoughts; she sees that lived out daily. However, how often does she get to see the vocation of consecrated life lived out? For some girls they may get the privilege in school or maybe a yearly home visit if a family member is a sister. But for most it is rare. This beautiful event did just that—it presented the consecrated life in a real and beautiful light. It was on their level and made it accessible to them. It gave the girls a chance to hear the story of a sister’s walk through discernment, her take on day-to-day life in the convent, the abundant love that fills her heart for her spouse, Jesus, and her many children in the world, and they were able to feel her unmistakable joy as she fulfills the dream that God had dreamt for her.
As we drove away, my girls and I talked about the sister who was “just like them.” We discussed which vocation each one thought God might be calling them to and we resolved to pray ever more fervently that God’s Will would be done in each of their lives. How blessed were we (and the other 245 mothers and daughters) who were able to witness and be reminded of the true, good, and beautiful plan God has for us! Many thanks to Fiat Ministries and St. Peter’s Little Flowers.