“Sometimes we’ve been mistaken for many other things. We have a convent in New York City, and one night our Sisters were walking on the streets, back to one of our convents. A group approached them and said, ‘Hey Sisters, what’s the show on Broadway tonight?’ I mean, you see a lot of things in New York, and we’re just part of it. Then we were in Sydney too, a little girl boarded a bus one day when there were a few of us on, and said, ‘Look Mum, all these women are getting married today.’ You know, so it’s a sight unseen.”
Sister Jean Marie and Sister Mary Grace are Sisters of Life. They’ve taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – the vows that nuns have taken for centuries – as well as an extra vow, to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.
Their order is often described as “pro-life”, but Sister Mary Grace says she likes to think of their work as radically “pro-woman”, supporting mothers and pregnant women who feel that their choices are limited by offering them practical help, and unconditional love.
In this episode of Life & Faith, we hear from two young women who’ve made very counter-cultural choices: opting for commitment in an age of keeping your options open; celibacy in an age obsessed with sex and romance; communal living in an age of atomisation and loneliness; a life of prayer in an age that pursues productivity and efficiency. What could lead someone to make that kind of choice?
“Ultimately, what I’ve discovered in joining the Sisters of Life is that love desires to commit. Just last August I professed my first vows, and that day was like a wedding day for me. It was really an experience of freedom. I think love ultimately desires to give itself away to the beloved, to the other person that is loved.”
Photo credit: Lisa Hamrick 2016