Dear Sister: Which Community?
How did you decide which religious orders to research or pursue?
I first felt the "call" to religious life when I was a senior in my public high school. I remember sensing it the first time in an English Class. My thoughts turned from "Should I become a Sister" to "Why not Become a Sister". From then on it became a more serious idea and I began to study what local communities were like. I actually taught CCD with the Oxford Dominican Sisters in Flint, and later worked with the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters at Sacred Heart Parish in our University Town of Mt. Pleasant, MI.
Then the impulse got stronger and I began to visit more congregations in Flint and elsewhere to find out more about what it would be like to join their congregations. The answers were all "Speech pathology will come in handy when you teach classroom" and I knew classroom teaching was not my given vocation! I had majored in "Speech Correction" and Vocal Music Education and was fully certified in Michigan for both. So I dropped these congregations from my list. I thought I never would find the right place.
I then heard the Sisters of the Precious Blood had just acquired Marian Hall in Flint, Michigan where I was living, so I looked them up in a book about women's religious congregations. When I called them in Flint, I was invited right away to supper with them for a nice visit. Then one volunteered to go with me to drive down to Dayton to visit the "motherhouse". So I scheduled the day, and somehow made up something so my parents wouldn't know because they were very opposed to my joining a religious community.
The thing which impressed me most about going to Dayton was that the Sisters all were welcoming and took me on a tour inside their home. I even got to mix with the Postulants and Novices which had NOT happened at any other Motherhouse or Sisters homes I visited. Most of them just met with me in a "visiting" room.
Finally, my Sister Companion from Marian Hall brought me to meet our Mother Aquinas. We had a nice chat. She asked what profession I had studied, and after I told her it was speech therapy, she said, "Speech Therapy! You'll be a pioneer in our congregation”. That was the final answer God gave me and I have continued this ministry for over 40 years ending when I retired teaching at Central Michigan University and then did some part-time work with home-health care type speech therapy. Even my spiritual director, Fr. George Zabelka in Flint, had cautioned me that I should join a congregation which would allow me to practice the profession I had studied and practiced and loved so much! Not one of the near dozen congregation which I had interviewed with said I could/would be doing speech therapy. Not long after this visit with Dayton C.PP.S. I sent in my application and made plans to move to join them after the end of the school year. And I have stayed for 58 years with them!