Here is an excellent letter we received from the mother of a young woman entering religious life:
“Fathers and mothers of families should bring up their children virtuously, looking at them rather as God’s children than their own; and to count life and health, and all they possess, as loans which they hold of God.” St. Philip Neri
When our daughter Samantha called us after the start of her senior year at the University of Iowa to tell us that she thought that she had a religious vocation as a “nun”, her father, Tim and I weren’t really too surprised. Sam had told us from the age of 3 that is what she wanted to do. As she entered Jr High, that desire was pushed aside when Sam discovered the Gift of music that God had blessed her with. She fine tuned her instrument (her voice) for the years that followed with every intention of singing opera after she graduated from college. She ate, slept and dreamed opera for the next 9 years. Unknowingly to us, Sam had been nudged by God once again her sophomore year in college. She had been discerning her vocation and exploring several religious communities around the country. By the time she had told Tim and I about this change in direction, she was pretty sure that she was being called to the Carmelite order. Although she did explore the possibility of an active Carmelite community in St Louis, her heart was not at rest with that decision. She couldn’t get the thought of “quiet” out of her mind. She resisted at first, but knew she had to go visit the cloister. Praise be to God we have a beautiful Carmelite Community only an hour from our home in Nebraska. Although she had never been there, I had been, and to be totally honest, I knew it would be Sam’s home before she even told me about her desire to be a nun!
She visited over Christmas break that year and knew immediately that this is where God was calling her to be.
Oh but there’s that word “cloister” ouch! That is a word that is not understood very well in our culture. Our beautiful, vibrant, talented, loving daughter behind the grill for the rest of her life? “Why?” we asked,” you have so much to offer to the world!” “Because God is calling me to this way of life,” was her answer. We watched and we learned so much from Sam the year that she was home, preparing to enter the Carmel. She detached herself from the world little by little. The more she let go, the more radiant she became with the love of her future spouse. Don’t get me wrong, she was very present to us each and every day helping out the family, being a witness of Christ’s Love to all that she encountered, but her heart was with her beloved. The days leading up to her entrance were so filled with the “joy of the cross” for our whole family. The sorrows of the “last hugs” were totally overshadowed with the JOY of seeing Sam’s face after she walked into the cloister!
Tim and I knew the minute that we saw her with her Sisters that she was exactly where she was suppose to be.
We do miss Samantha very much. But we gain great consolation from Jesus, Mary and Joseph who are our perfect models of holiness. We are all given crosses in our lives. Our cross is so sweet, I thank God every day for it. Our children are not ours to own, but to teach to love God with their whole heart and soul. I pray that we all find the fullness of God’s love in each of our vocations.
– Paula Bastian
“My advice to parents would be talk to sisters and priests and don’t hesitate to ask them the difficult questions. Also make sure to pray that your child can have the courage to do God’s will.” – Father Greg Bohren
“Please be supportive and encouraging to your son or daughter if they are discerning a vocation. If you are a young parent, handing on the gift of faith that we all receive at baptism is the greatest gift that you can give to your child; then nurture that always.” – Sr. Clare Joseph Daniels, OCD
“As difficult as it may seem, let your daughter or son follow their hearts. The process of discernment continues throughout the first few years of formation. Your child will never know if she/he does not at least try. And if God is calling them, they will come to know a joy they could not have otherwise known!” – Sr. Colleen Therese Smith, Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
“To allow one’s daughter to become a sister is a sacrifice for a parent. We may have had particular hopes and dreams for our child that will not come to fruition. It is worth the sacrifice! Pick up any book about the life of a saint, and we can quickly see how God will take our sacrifice and turn it into blessings too numerous for us to count. God’s plan is always more of a wonderful adventure than any path we could imagine for ourselves (or our child). By letting our daughter go to do the work of the Lord, we will be most satisfied.” -Fr Aaron Kuhn