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Kelsey Porada

About Kelsey Porada

Kelsey is a co-founder of Imagine Sisters, and a recent Loyola University Chicago graduate with degrees in English Creative Writing and Psychology. She now attends graduate school at Franciscan University for her Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She enjoys dancing, giraffes, sunlight, and flowers, and wants to spend her whole life serving Christ's Church. AMDG!

My Jesuit Journey with St. Therese, by Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J

October 1st is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseux, a 19th century French Discalced Carmelite nun, popularly known as the Little Flower of Jesus. St. Therese is dear to me because she is the first saint that I knew and she is one of the saints who constantly prays for me in my life journey, especially in my journey as a Jesuit.

Therese_von_LisieuxI got to know St. Therese for the first time in primary school. Although I was not Catholic at that time, my parents decided to send me to a nearby Catholic school for my primary education, thinking that it would provide good education. The patron of the school is St. Therese of Lisieux. Every year on October 1st, all the students were required to go to the local church for the Mass dedicated to St. Therese, but I never knew what it all meant.  My impression about the Mass was merely that we had to kneel for a long time. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother pushed me to join the catechumen program. My mother made that decision for me for pragmatic reasons: to secure a position in one of the best Catholic Middle Schools in my hometown for my secondary education. I was very reluctant to join the program, and began to ask why I have to become a Catholic. I refused to join the first catechumen class. My mother was very angry with me and punished me for my contempt. Later, I came to the class just to avoid further punishment from my mother. Having gone through the period of catechumens, I was baptized on the Easter vigil of 1986. Not long after my baptism, I successfully secured the position in one of the best Catholic Middle Schools in my home town, which also took St. Therese as its patron saint.

Fast forward to my years in college, I began to question my Catholic faith because found I found that being a Catholic student was very boring. Our faith seemed no more than Mass, pilgrimage, retreat and feast. Meanwhile, outside the Catholic circle, I found that the secular student activism on campus was much more interesting. There was so much discussion about social and political issues among the student activists. Through my interaction with the secular student activists, I had come into this conclusion that the Church and Catholicism never provided an adequate answer to the cause of issue of human suffering. At that time I stopped attending the Church regularly and slowly I began to change my creed into “I believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin; I believe that everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your definition of knowledge.”

Having spent five years in the wilderness of faith, on one Sunday morning, my then-girlfriend invited me to go for Sunday mass with her. I decided to attend Sunday mass simply because I wanted to please her. Having spent many months attending mass with my girlfriend, I began to re-think about my Catholic faith. At that time I was working in an international financial institution in downtown Jakarta, Indonesia. There is an old and small Catholic Church that is located around two blocks from my office. The Church is named after St. Therese of Liseux. One day, I decided to attend a daily mass in that Church, and perhaps it was one of the first moments that I decided to go to the Church on my own instead of pleasing my girlfriend or mother.10515326_631390506978857_4219475172879684896_o

As God brought Joseph from desert to Palace and Moses from palace to desert, He brought me from a small mining town in Indonesia to Seattle, Washington. In the Emerald city, I experienced a deeper conversion and later decided to enter the Jesuit Novitiate. I submitted my application to the Society of Jesus on October 1st.. Little did I know that this was not only a simple coincidence, but rather, a sign of abiding grace in which St. Therese had been praying for me long since my time in primary school and she would continue to pray for me in my journey on the religious path.

Every Jesuit has to make the Spiritual Exercises, a thirty-day, silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius Loyola. During my silent retreat in the Novitiate, I had a chance to reflect more about my faith journey: one day, I prayed over my relationship with St. Therese of Liseux. The Holy Spirit helped me to see that St. Therese is one of the greatest Saint of modern times, because the beauty of her spiritual childhood was a testament to how a saint can change the world. Through my faith journey, I realized that secularism is not as powerful as we thought. I ran away from God and tried to live a life without meaning, but the beauty of St. Thérèse’s spiritual childhood rescued me from such despair and nihilism.

 

Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J. is a Jesuit Scholastic. He taught at Santa Clara University Law School and Political Science Department.

Surrendering to God’s Will

Written by a young woman named Helena, just before entering religious life.

Entering religious life has held major lessons in trust and surrender for me. I’m goal oriented, a planner, a person who likes to know the next step and do it. Over the time of pre-postulancy, I’ve been pulled, stretched, and formed in ways I would not have even imagined, and I know this will continue to happen after I enter. It has not been easy; on the contrary, it has been the hardest, most painful, emotional experience of my life.But, at the same time, Christ has been there so beautifully and lovingly, every step of the way. He continues to show me that everything I surrender to Him is taken care of and even returned in ways I could not have planned.

When I came to the realization that religious life was a very real possibility for me, I was devastated. (Yes, I know this sounds contradictory to the heavenly chorus one might think accompanies such a decision, but hear me out.) I was devastated at the realization that the plans I had for my life might not be Christ’s plans for my life. It didn’t make sense. However, over the next few months as I tried to wrap my head around what He was asking of me, I kept returning to the image of the Cross. Christ gave us everything He had. The people around Him did not understand. They mocked, betrayed, even tormented Him. The suffering of the Cross did not make sense to human beings, but the divine joy of the Resurrection and hope of eternal life could not come without the sacrifice of the Cross. In comparison, the sacrifice of my plans, car, career and physical separation from family and friends, while major sacrifices to me, seemed so insignificant in comparison to Christ’s sacrifice for us.

I was also comforted by Christ’s words in Matthew 26:39 during His agony in the garden: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” This became my constant prayer. At first, I identified with what I thought was Christ’s doubt and struggle. But during this time, I came across a reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane by Mother Teresa, who beautifully wrote: “No. There was no doubt. It was only for a moment that He felt unsure. That was as a human being. That was natural. The moment you accept, the moment you surrender yourself, that’s the conviction. But it may mean death to you…then there is no doubt. The moment Jesus said ‘Father, I am at your disposal, Thy will be done,’ He had accepted. That was His agony. He felt all things you and I would feel as human beings. That’s why He was like us, unto all things, except sin.”

God the Father was with Christ as He cooperated with the plan for salvation. I had to trust that He would be with me as well, as I tried to cooperate with His plan for me. The promise was there. The doors were open. What would I do?

St. Faustina phrases her acceptance much more eloquently than I, in imitation of our Blessed Mother’s fiat: “I thank you Jesus, you who first drank the cup of bitterness before You gave it to me, in a much milder form. I put my lips to this cup of Your Holy Will. Let all be done according to Your good pleasure.”

Regardless of His ultimate plans for me, we are all called to say yes to following Him, every day, in every state or stage of life. (Even if it simply starts with reaching for a prayer book instead of our smartphones when we open our eyes in the morning!) When we surrender our plans for His, even in the little things, the joy and peace that comes from doing His will is indescribable.

 

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Our Online Store is Open Now!

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We are happy to announce that we are re-opening our online store for the first time in a year! Our merchandise will be available for purchase from Friday, October 24th until Sunday, November 9th.

Because Imagine Sisters is such a small organization, we are not able to keep a constant back-stock or provide continuous shipping. Therefore, we open the store for a limited period of time, gather all of the orders once the time period has ended, and then place complete orders with the company or companies who produce our merchandise. These companies produce the merchandise and ship it back to us. Then, Amanda and I (and some volunteers) package, address, and mail them to you! It is a lengthy process, but for now it how we must operate, and we thank you all for your saintly patience with us. *NOTE: To anyone who donated to our fundraising campaign and selected a t-shirt, calendar, mug, or sweatshirt, these perks will be produced and shipped at the same time as the products from our store! You can expect them to arrive approx. 1 to 2 weeks before Christmas. Thank you!!

As we announced previously, we have recently settled in Steubenville, Ohio. We discovered that an awesome Catholic printing company is stationed in this same town, and have partnered with them to produce our merchandise. This is a great opportunity, because it allows us to meet with the company to perfect the items we want to feature in our store. God be praised!

The company, Nelson Fine Art and Gifts is a small, family-owned manufacturing business founded in 1994. The Nelson family and their company are strongly committed to quality craftsmanship and to the Catholic Faith. All products are handcrafted in the company’s own workshops to ensure that each piece is made with care.

We are featuring a couple new items this time! In addition to our ‘One Sister Can Change the World” T-shirt and sweatshirt, we will also have an Imagine Sisters coffee mug, wood-carved graphic magnet, set of mini Imagine Sisters buttons, new car decals and bumper stickers, and more!

Orders will be shipped via priority USPS mail during the first week of December, and will arrive to you early in the second week of December. Plenty of time before Christmas!

International shipping is available. (Yay!) However, because the Earth is a very big place, we cannot guarantee that the items will arrive before Christmas.

Please do check out the store and consider purchasing to support TWO Catholic organizations and spread the message that NUNS ROCK!

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An Inside Look into a Discernment Group!

An Inside Look
by LaVerta StrahamNun Run 005

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buecher

College is the time that you are supposed to discover who you are and what you are called to do with your life. You are faced with all of these different options: what the world is telling you to do, what you want to do, what other people want you to do, and what God is calling you to do. Sometimes these things line up or they converge somewhere, and other times, much to your disappointment, they don’t.  It is because of this that discernment is so important in college.

My sophomore year in college I was entrusted with the care of a very new idea at my university parish, a discernment group specifically for women. We had a men’s discernment group, but we had not quite gotten the women’s discernment group off the ground. We finally had a group that was dedicated to helping college women ask those tough questions and shine light on possibilities that many women may have never considered, or did not have an encouraging atmosphere to consider them in.

Our goal is to help women answer their call to holiness through whatever vocation they are called to, yet at the same time we want to shine a light on the beauty of religious life. We started out by working with a sister in our diocese and had meetings once a month. During those meetings we looked at how women discovered their vocations, we read stories about people who were currently discerning, and we Skyped with sisters and learned about their communities and charism. In addition to that, we went on retreats together, we frequently met for prayer, to watch movies, or just to discuss where we were in our faith journey.

We got to a point where we wanted to encounter these different communities and not just hear about their charism but experience them as well. We wanted to get out of Oklahoma and see what religious life was like in action. Due to this, we planned our very own Nun Run. Our goal was to go from Oklahoma to Maryland and back over nine days and visit eight orders in five states. It was quite a large undertaking for a discernment group that was only a few months old, but we felt that this was where our discernment needed to go. We realized that this was a huge trip to plan and that it would take a lot of work, and so our motto was a quote by Mother Teresa, “God has not called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful.” For three college students to plan this trip not knowing where we would get the money from, how we would get there, and even if other women would give up their entire Spring break and go along with our plan, we knew that our planning had to revolve around being faithful to God’s will and not necessarily totally oriented around the outcome. If this trip affected one person by giving her the chance to meet orders she had never met before or by just sparking a tiny thought—then it was worth it.

We were surprised by the outcome of our planning; our entire parish rallied behind us and helped us with the trip! Many people were inspired by the fact that young women wanted to visit religious orders and that there were people even discerning. We had a great response in women who were interested in coming with us as well. So, the first Saturday of our Spring break at 6AM, nine ladies piled into two cars and started our drive to our first destination, St. Louis, Missouri.

WDGDuring our Nun Run we met so many women who desired a radical relationship with God, and to dedicate their lives to the service of others. We saw women so dedicated to Christ that they gave up what the world would call freedom, in order to live a life of true freedom through the Eucharist. We met women whose apostolate involved being mothers to the world, women who dedicate their lives to preparing the elderly to stand before Our Maker with no regrets, and we visited a religious family whose goal is the evangelization of the culture through the prolonging of the Incarnate Word. When we returned from our trip we realized that this was an experience that we wanted to bring to a larger group of people, therefore we decided that for the next year the women’s discernment group would pair with the men’s discernment group and put on a vocation festival for our Archdiocese. During this weekend we brought orders in and recreated the experience that we had for a larger group of high school and college students in Oklahoma.

Our discernment group is built on seeking out God’s will. Everything that we do is a leap of faith towards a much greater cause than ourselves and it is a process. We started out with an idea and a hope that maybe just one person would show up to a meeting or sign up to be emailed. College is the time for discernment and the time to develop a relationship with Christ. An important part of that is developing that relationship within a community. It has been a process, it has been a struggle but also, it has been one of the most influential parts of my discernment process.

“It was not you who chose Me but I who chose you.” John 15:16

When the Little Flower Trumps the Father of Nihilism

When the Little Flower Trumps the Father of Nihilism

By Stefanus Hendrianto, S.J.

A Greek philosopher named Plato once said that beauty is the theresegreatest among the triad of truth, goodness and beauty. Plato described beauty as the eternal splendor of the One showing through the Many. As the Church celebrates the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, let us pause and reflect on how the beauty of a saint has been showing through the Many. Saint Pope Pius X proclaimed St. Thérèse of Lisieux as the greatest Saint of modern times.  Indeed, she is the greatest Saint of modern times, because the beauty of her spiritual childhood was a testament on how a saint can change the world.

Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, later known as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was born January 2, 1873.  A year before Thérèse was born, a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche published his first book entitled The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche stands as a true son of Enlightenment era, who used the masks of rationality and Godless philosophy in his nihilistic approach to life. Meanwhile, Pope Pius XI declared that St. Therese is the “word of God descended from heaven to reveal to us the way of spiritual childhood, and she has traced for us a sure way of salvation.” Indeed, the birth of St. Thérèse was a divine plan to counter the darkness of Nietzschean world of nihilism.

There is a legend that a young Thérèse and Neitzsche did meet when they stayed at the same hotel in Paris in 1887. At that time, St. Thérèse was with her father and her sister on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome for the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. It was the year when Nietzsche published his work Beyond Good and Evil. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche wrote, “Perhaps the day will come when…the concepts of ‘God’ and ‘sin’ will seem no more important to us that a child’s toy and a child’s pain seem to an old man – and perhaps ‘the old man’ will then be in need of another toy and another pain—still child enough, an eternal child!”

St. Thérèse would agree with Nietzsche, but she would give her own version of an “eternal child.” An eternal child is one who lives with humility, because a little child is naturally weak. Then, there is poverty in an eternal child because he owns nothing. There is also confidence in an eternal child because he knows that parents are always there to help him, and give him all he needs. Next, there is love in an eternal child, who loves his mother and father. Finally, an eternal child is simple in his thoughts, words and actions. He is only capable of little things. St. Thérèse then would say to Nietzsche that an “eternal child” is not a sign that God is no longer important, but rather a way for us to build a union with God.

In 1888, Nietzsche published one of his final and most notorious writings, in which he proclaimed that “God is dead.” In the same year, Thérèse entered Carmelite Monastery and became a Carmelite postulant. St. Thérèse proclaimed by her life that God was not dead. Moreover, she lived the words of Jesus to his disciple, “Because I live, you also shall live.” Not long after he declared that God is dead, Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown and his life went awry from that point. Nietzsche lived for another decade, but he died after two strokes partially paralyzed him and left him unable to speak or walk. St. Thérèse also died in 1897 after her long suffering from tuberculosis, but even in her weakest moments she gave glory to God.

As the true son of the Enlightenment era, Nietzsche attempted to find an alternative way in which modern man could try to save humanity from death. Perhaps St. Thérèse would laugh at Nietzsche because he should know that the philosopher Socrates once postulated that philosophy is basically preparation for death! Again, St. Thérèse trumps Nietzsche because she knew the greatest philosopher, Jesus Christ, who transforms the meaning of a good death into the meaning of a good life through his death on the Cross.

Nietzsche’s legacy was the world of nihilism and despair. Nonetheless, the beauty of St. Thérèse’s spiritual childhood rescued the world from Nietzschean despair and nihilism, for there is always hope in the spiritual childhood of St. Thérèse. G.K. Chesterton once pointed out that children always say, “Do it again!” God, too, tells the sun, “Do it again!” every morning. There is always hope in our God who has this eternal appetite of infancy. Although we grow old in our sins, God is always younger than us – he tells us to try again.

 

Stefanus Hendrianto, SJ is a second year regent at Santa Clara University where he teaches both at the School of Law and Political Science Department.

A Single Rose Poem by Jacob Boddicker, SJ

In honor of today’s One Rose Invitation, Jesuit scholastic Jacob Boddicker, SJ wrote this beautiful poem as an offering of his own kind of “rose.”

A Single Rose

In the quiet of thy heart comes thy KingSmall_Red_Rose
To thee, fair one, dear one, dove and garden closed,
and to thy windowed soul He sighs and sings,
thorn-crowned, wound-red, myrrh-sweet: yea, Sharon’s Rose.*
Chosen soul! Let thy heart break forth a-dawn;
spill o’er the sill of fear that damned and dimmed,
Let thy pride fall that thou might rise anon
Bourne aloft in His heart, caught up in Him.
What sweeter prison tower could thou find
Than the love-petaled bower of His breast,
Impossibly free though gentle tethers bind
Thee heart-to-heart, from which no sin can wrest
For He’s thine and shant rescind what’s given;
Give Him thy “yes” and He’ll give thee Heaven.

*Song of Songs 2:1

Let Fall a Shower of Roses: One Rose Invitation 2014

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The One Rose Invitation is an Imagine Sisters tradition that takes place annually on October 1st, the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Therese is the patron saint of Imagine Sisters, and a perfect model and friend-in-Heaven for those considering consecrated life as a religious sister. She entered a Carmelite monastery at 15, and spent her life loving Christ through prayer and small sacrifices. Before her passing at the age of 24, St. Therese said, “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses.

The inspiration for the One Rose Invitation is drawn from these words. In the days leading up to St. Thérèse’s feast, Imagine Sisters asks our followers to think of and pray about a young woman whom they believe would make a good religious sister. Then, on October 1st, you are to let her know by offering her a rose. This rose is an acknowledgment of the beauty of that young woman’s soul, and a symbol of the invitation to consider a vocation to religious life.

Will you take part in this beautiful tradition? Here are some suggestions!

1. Spend some time in prayer with the Lord, the Blessed Mother, and St. Thérèse. Meditate on the virtues and qualities of a bride of Christ, and think of young women in whom you see those features. Is she someone at your parish? In your dorm? A student in your grade or high school? A daughter, granddaughter, goddaughter, sibling, niece or cousin? A friend?

2. Ask God to help you decide who to present your rose to. If you want to give roses to multiple women, that is absolutely allowed!

3. Next, plan for how you will acquire this rose. There are many options: flower shops or grocery stores are a good bet, and this year’s Feast is on a Wednesday, so stores will be open. Rose bushes are also typically still in bloom at this time in the season, so you could clip one from your own yard, or ask a neighbor for permission to clip theirs! It is for a good cause. 😉 In cases where it is not possible to acquire and give a real rose, some people choose to mail a greeting card with a rose on it, draw a picture of a rose, or even e-mail/post a digital image of a rose. These are all good options!

4. When will you give her the rose? You could ask her to meet with you, or leave it for her with a note, or mail it on Saturday to ensure it arrives by Wednesday.

5. If she has not yet heard of Imagine Sisters, you may direct her to our web pages if she is interested in discerning religious life!

6. Continue to hold her in prayer. Why not pair your One Rose with one Rosary? :-)

For more ideas, photos, and testimonies from the One Rose Invitation in years past, read this blog post!

You may use this pre-designed note if you wish!

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The Hound of Heaven, by Helena, a young woman entering religious life.

houndofheavenI fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

I can relate to Francis Thomas’ feelings of being “pursued” by One so persistent yet gentle, the One who asks me (and all of us) to follow Him.

If you had asked me about two years ago if I thought I would be entering a convent this summer, the answer would be a resounding “Absolutely not.” I knew where I was headed. I had a college degree, a job, a nice car, and all I needed was the right man to walk into my life so I could have everything I was “really” supposed to have.

In the meantime, I filled my calendar with just about every possible activity I could jump into, assuming that God gave me this single season of life so that I could be productive and use my time to be helpful to others. And, it is certainly true that one should be content with the single state in life. It’s not a ‘waiting for’ stage; Christ has a purpose for every stage in life. The activities were good and productive, but I was still not finding peace because I was merely filling time and ended up having no time for anyone. I soon found myself in a very self-focused, miserable stage of burn-out. I wasn’t really giving of myself to anyone. My prayer soon evolved from asking the Lord to make things happen for me, to simply asking to do His will.

And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet—
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’

As I realized I needed more balance in my life, I scaled back my calendar and tried to focus more on prayer and listening to the Lord. I rediscovered my love of reading (of books, not websites), made time to exercise and be outdoors, and signed up for the vocations retreats that everyone had been hinting that I needed to attend.

(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)

Throughout high school, college, and beyond, I had sat through various “vocations talks” (you know, the ones that faithful Catholic youth may encounter at various retreats and conferences, along with the occasional “chastity talk”) with a scowl on my face and resentment running through my head (‘THIS doesn’t apply to me, why am I here? I don’t need to listen because I know it’s not for me’). But underneath my denial, there was an uncomfortable question, the burning little “What if?” that bothered me whenever the thought of a religious vocation was presented to me. I would shut out the fearsome thought and move on with life.

So, when I slowed down, stopped running, turned around, and looked at the Lord, I faced the beautiful, overwhelming possibility that He was calling me. When I finally admitted this, I was able to answer, as C.S. Lewis says, “I know now Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?’

He didn’t force me. He didn’t overcome me all at once. As the hound in the poem, He pursued me, and convinced me little by little, step by step, that He may want more for me than I wanted for myself. One by one, fears that I have had along the way have been put to rest and provided for as I could never have planned myself. I am done running from Him, and even though I am continuing to discern and still do not know the ultimate picture, I am open to whatever surprises Christ may wish to send me. As a priest so beautifully put it to me, “He WILL be a faithful Husband. The question you need to ask yourself is, can you be a faithful wife?”

Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

Imagine Sisters: A Joyful Movement, by Brandon Ocampo of Catholic Memes

In a world full of darkness, hate, and chaos, a chosen few rise up and shine light, love, and peace in the world. These chosen few are… Catholic Sisters!?

Okay, so the whole superhero movie approach to vocations is totally awesome and shines a new light on spiritual warfare, but that’s not the point here. Sisters are great, not just for the Church, but for the world. After all, the world needs sisters! God shines His eternal light in a special way through these wonderful women. But these women weren’t always sisters, at one point, they were normal girls who received a special call to love from God.

Christ has always called people in different ways, but in today’s age, He’s using social media. The Imagine Sisters movement desires to help Christ with this divine mission. The movement seeks to assist Christ in calling out to those young women who are discerning consecrated life. Whether it’s by a Facebook post, a retweet, or by an Instagram post, Imagine Sisters is spreading the beauty of consecrated life. Through online resources and social media, the Imagine Sisters movement works to help young women with their vocational discernment.

Imagine Sisters is THE movement to turn to if you’re a young women discerning the beautiful call to consecrated life. All this wonderful work is done with an amazing and contagious joy. I mean come on, even Matt Maher thinks that both the movement and nuns themselves rock! Any other argument is invalid. The Imagine Sisters movement really does remind us all that one sister can change the world. And that’s pretty awesome.

Also, just to set the record straight:

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You can help Imagine Sisters continue their ministry with a tax-deductible donation here!

 

 

Working Together for Vocations: The Future of Imagine Sisters

Before Imagine Sisters, I always wondered why there had been no widespread vocational outreach for women’s religious life like there is for priests. Then when I discovered Imagine Sisters, I was so excited that someone was finally making it happen!”  – J., an ISM follower

That is precisely what the Imagine Sisters Movement is for: widespread vocational outreach for women’s religious life. Imagine Sisters is meant to be more than just a Facebook page that posts cool nun graphics. God’s dream and our mission is for Imagine Sisters to be the locus for young women to come to learn about the vocation, for exposure to religious communities and retreats, help with discernment, a community of prayerful support, friendships with other young women discerning, and if it be God’s will, the strength to give their lives to Christ.

Imagine Sisters is also intended to be a channel through which religious communities can share their light with young people, via photos, videos, testimonies and vocation stories, contact information, and retreat schedules. We want to bring the beauty of religious life to the world, in hopes of bringing many young women to religious life.

In regards to the cool nun graphics, Imagine Sisters works to raise awareness of the beauty, fruitfulness, and fulfillment in religious life–simply by showing proof! The Imagine Sisters Movement seeks to remove our negative cultural stigma of nuns as angry, mean old women– to “retire the ruler” as we say at ISM. And it works: my non-religious best friend from public school told me, “Kelsey, I used to think nuns were scary, but now I think they’re really cool because of you!”

Many people do not understand why their daughters, sisters, or friends would want to become a sister, and even for those who do understand and support the vocation, their sacrifice can be difficult. The Imagine Sisters Movement wants to minister to the needs of these people, through parent resources and outreach, forums for families of sisters, print materials for young women on how to talk to their parents, and informational materials women can give to their families to help them understand and support their discernment of a religious vocation.

The Imagine Sisters Movement is available for parishes, youth ministers, campus ministers, catechists, and religion teachers to reach young people with high-quality resources about women’s religious life. In the majority of my generation’s upbringing, sisters were mentioned only as a sidenote, if at all. So many young, faithful Catholics have never met a sister, and just do not know that religious life is “still a thing.” At first, even my close friends told me, “Kelsey, you’re like the only person under 80 years old I have ever heard talking about wanting to be a nun.” Imagine Sisters can work with priests and the laity to reintroduce women’s religious life to young people at a parish and school level.

Ultimately, the Imagine Sisters Movement exists to rebuild a culture of vocations in our Church. It is intended to move young people to authentic discernment, with informed minds and open hearts. The effects of this outreach are not limited to women’s religious vocations: young vocations encourage other young people to give their lives to Christ, and meeting young women religious often inspires young men to consider a call to the priesthood.

~ * ~33 days for VOCATIONS

Currently, we are in the midst of a “33 Days for Vocations” fundraiser, to support the life of this ministry. Approximately half of the fundraising goal is intended for travel to youth conferences, webpage upkeep, and most especially for three special initiatives for what Pope Francis has deemed the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life. These initiatives are an on-the-go Imagine Sisters smartphone app, a redesigned website, and a video and blog series about religious life. Trust me, as Imagine Sisters’ resident NON-techgeek (“You’re getting a Mac Notebook? Is it wide-ruled or college?”) I can say that the smartphone app, new website, and video series aren’t just some pricey new-fangled gadgetry. These features have such tremendous value for the New Evangelization, especially in the Year of Consecrated Life:

An Imagine Sisters smartphone app means young women can easily access articles, information, retreat schedules, inspiration, prayers, photos, and videos… all to help them discern whether Christ calls them to be His bride. We want to have every woman religious in the country saying, “Lord, I wish I had something like this when I was discerning!” The smartphone app also means young women who are just learning of Imagine Sisters and the beauty of religious life can share the app among their friends; this way the Movement can spread further and faster, to set hearts on fire for Christ through the radiance of His brides.

The newly-designed website will keep Imagine Sisters up to the standards of other high-quality, secular media that aggressively vies for the attention of young people. A beautiful, sleek design attracts young people and encourages them to take the content seriously, to trust it as something worthwhile. As we also plan to enrich the website with deeper, more comprehensive content written by women religious, a new design will drive the impact this content can have.

Videos have always been crucial to the Imagine Sisters Movement! People need to see the beauty, love, joy, fruitfulness, and fulfillment that exists in religious life, in order to believe it! They need to see other young women living this vocation in order to imagine themselves doing the same! Similarly, blog posts are a major way that young people learn from and relate with others; therefore, a dynamic blogging campaign featuring posts from women religious and young women considering religious life would be an incredible way to aid young women in their own discernment throughout this upcoming Year of Consecrated Life.

~ * ~

These first two years at Imagine Sisters have been difficult, because we have always been a tiny group of young volunteers trying our best to serve this great need in the Church.

In our first year, Imagine Sisters was made up of Dan, Amanda, me, and a couple of helpers. This past year, Dan stepped down because he began major seminary in California, my own contribution was all but nonexistent because I was taking 24 credit hours of classes each semester in order to graduate from Loyola in Chicago, and the other helpers also became too busy in their own lives. That left Amanda in Ohio, who was already working two jobs at 60+ hours a week in order to support herself. This was the weakened state of our organization.

Just a few months ago, we were uncertain how the movement could possibly be sustained considering our circumstances. We sought counsel from others and prayed to God to direct Imagine Sisters, which has always been a movement of the Holy Spirit, along the path He desired for us. Amanda and I traveled to meet together in person, and during that time the Holy Spirit absolutely swept us away! Our zeal skyrocketed, and the Church responded, as we have gained over 10,000 followers in the last 2 months! We saw how well we work when we are together for inspiration and encouragement, and how with each other and the Lord we can move mountains– if only we have the time.

Imagine Sisters is in great need of benefactors to support the life of our ministry. We eagerly desire to better serve young women, religious sisters, and the Church, yet the problem all comes down to our poverty of time, which is due to our lack of funding. This is why we have launched our “33 Days for Vocations” fundraising campaign. The other half of our $75,000 fundraising goal is allocated for staff wages. These salaries, small but sufficient, would mean that Amanda could quit her job to work as director of Imagine Sisters full time, and I could work as assistant director for Imagine Sisters throughout graduate school, rather than us both spending that time at outside jobs.

With more time to devote to Imagine Sisters, we would be able to develop a religious community membership program so as to include so many more sisters in our Movement– we have a spreadsheet of contact information on over 200 faithful communities, whom we long to engage! We would be able to compile and print resources for parents and families, keep our merchandise store open more frequently, respond to e-mails and suggestions from followers, and so much more.

We need your help in order to continue and fortify the work of Imagine Sisters. We need your help to make the Year of Consecrated Life initiatives come to life. We need your help to enable young women to truly imagine themselves as sisters, and to gain religious vocations for the Church.

This fundraiser is extremely important, because if the funds do not come through, it is possible that the Imagine Sisters Movement will come to a halt, due to a poverty of time. Many are looking to Imagine Sisters as both a window and channel to authentic women’s religious life, and we want to give all we can to religious communities, young women, families, friends, parishes, and the entire Church. We know that God desires more and the Church needs more than what we have already done. Pope Francis has designated this entire next year as the Year of Consecrated Life: will you help us in this mission to rebuild a culture of religious vocations and inspire young women to give their lives to Christ?

If you are willing to donate to the Imagine Sisters Movement’s “33 Days for Vocations” fundraiser, please click here to be directed to our campaign.

 

Please remember us in your prayers, and share this message with others who believe in the mission of Imagine Sisters!

In God’s love,
Kelsey