A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Location: Virginia, United States

Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Monday, November 14, 2005

My Vocation Discernment Retreat at the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

The Adoration Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Posted by Picasa

Well....*drum roll*...today I returned from my weekend long vocation discernment retreat with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, IN. Although I had to miss the Navy game (Go Irish!), the retreat was well worth it. And, it was extra exciting being that this was my first ever vocation discernment retreat!

Indeed, the retreat came at a very good time. The past week, I had been completely stressed out over my schoolwork, my inability to find a job, as well the fact that God's time frame for giving us answers is a little bit different than ours. In fact, I had been so wrapped up in schoolwork that I hadn't had time to go to daily mass or say the rosary in over two weeks! I definitely had my share of "Jesus-time" this weekend, their charism being Perpetual Adoration!

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were reccomended to me by my spiritual director, who noted that they are a beautiful little community. Indeed, they are! Their other apostolates are teaching and health care, and they have schools and hospitals all over Indiana.

Fortunately, this community of sisters never went "crazy" during the late 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s. In fact, they take alot of "transfer sisters"....that is, very orthodox women whose former congregations went a little bit haywire during past decades. Indeed, it struck me that there is an age-gap of orthodoxy....women who, at the very latest, professed during the early to mid sixties, and very young women in their 20s. They currently have three novices and two postulants, all chronologically young. However, every woman that I met there, regardless of her chronological age, was so refreshingly youthful!

Their motherhouse is in an old mansion that used to be owned by the Studebaker family....a beautiful early 1900s edifice. The residential part, as well as the main chapel and the Perpetual Adoration chapel was built in the late 40s, early 50s....it has that late-Art-Deco look to it, but is at the same time very tasteful. The walls are lined with beautiful and traditional pictures of Our Lord, Our Lady, St. Francis, and of course, St. Clare. There was a GORGEOUS picture of Chiara's investiture that was painted by one of the sisters in the 19th Century.

Weatherwise, this weekend was gorgeous, albeit a bit windy. I was picked up by two sisters on Friday evening, and later had a meet-n-greet session with all of the professed and novice sisters as well as the postulants. The priest leading the vocation discussions was from the Diocese of Gary, and, like many young priests these days, was extremely solid...he was one of the best confessors I had in quite a while, in fact! He instructed us to read several passages from Scripture that had to do with accepting God's call...namely, the story of Zecariah as well as the Annunciation. After a brief period of chatting with the sisters in the common room, we were summoned to the Perpetual Adoration chapel for a Holy Hour. I admit that I haven't been so good at getting to Adoration here at Notre Dame, but spending a total of over four hours with the Blessed Sacrament this weekend made me realize what a necessity it is in my life. Indeed, my writing flourished as I wrote in my journal in the chapel!

The rest of the weekend, we had a few more discussions, celebrated Holy Mass, shared S'mores with the sisters, went to morning, daily, evening, and night prayer, and had a one-on-one chat with the vocation director.

So.....the part you've been wondering about...did this weekend give me any definitive answers? Well, yes and no. For one thing, the vocation director and I came to a mutual decision about how it might be best for me to wait a few years...until I get over this confusion and uncertainty that I've felt in college for the past several years....so that I can make a proper decision about religious life.

However, there was another thing....you know the feeling of when you're on a date with someone and are supposed to be paying attention to your date, but no matter how hard you try, you can't stop thinking about somebody else? Well, all throughout the weekend....even during Perpetual Adoration....I couldn't stop thinking about my boyfriend, who indeed is a gem, and about how much I love him! To a lesser extent, I was also thinking alot about the Poor Clares in Barhamsville, VA, and about the deep connection that I feel with them.

Indeed, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are such a beautiful, joyful, wonderfully gifted community...but somehow I just didn't feel that certain "spark" this weekend. I can't even put my finger on it as to why I didn't, but perhaps it's God gently leading me to an entirely different vocation, such as marriage.

However, I reccomend this lovely community of sisters to any girl who is discerning a Franciscan vocation! Besides, brown does WONDERS for a girl's complexion!


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