Thursday, June 30, 2016

Staying with the Sisters: Week 1 Recap

From left: Shea, me, Sister Mary Philip, Kelsey, Emily, and (front) Sister T

Week 1 of the Servants to Sisterhood program was already an incredible experience, though we were definitely missing our 5th, Clair, who wouldn't show up until next week, when we started helping with Camp Marian. 

My sister and I showed up first of all the girls and (as I've said before) I was pretty nervous. What if the other girls didn't like me? What if I found this whole place too much religion for my tastes? I am the youngest of the group, only 19, so I expected to feel a little left out from the older girls. Well, boy was I wrong. By the end of Sunday, both Kelsey and Emily had moved in with us and we were thick as thieves. 

Unfortunately, I do not have more pictures of the beautiful house that we are staying in, but I have to give a huge shout out to Sister T, the "Ladies of the Night", and all the other volunteers who put so much work into whipping this early 1900s house into shape, because it really is a wonderful place to live. I think that, as a group, our favorite spot is the walk out roof. We've already decided that we would like to do a weekly bible study there on Wednesdays as the sun goes down. 

The first few days were orientation, where we learned how to navigate through the maze-like halls of the church and academy in order to find things like the Archives, the laundry room, and storage (where we found the secret hiding stash of donated microwave popcorn). Sister T took us everywhere, from the very bottom (the crypt, which isn't as creepy as it sounds), to the very tip top, where we could see for miles and miles over the Indiana hills. She showed us the the quiet spots, the holy spots, where we could use our free time to connect with God like the sisters did. 

By Wednesday, we were rearing to go help the sisters with some of their daily work, and we all split up to different places. I was able to tag along with Sister Christine Marie, who gives communion and does a rosary with the residents in Ferdinand's nursing home. It was here that I first began to realize the impact that these sisters have on their community. As Christine Marie and I went from room to room, I saw Catholic men and women who couldn't walk, speak, or even move light up when we entered the room to pray over them. Many would smile, nod, and bow their heads and I could see that they craved that simplicity that the prayers brought. Even more, I could see how, even though she only saw these residents for only a few minutes of her day, Christine Marie truly cared for each of them, knew them all by name, and remembered the stories that they had told her. Even the slightest bit of her time made these men and women more fulfilled in their lives.

Though we were all happy to see each other and experience the sisters throughout the week, we were sad to hear that one of the sisters in the infirmary, Sister Mary Clare, was not doing very well, and before we knew it, she was gone. We, the servants to the sisterhood, sat in the dining room hearing the news and we saw the sadness on each person's face knowing that this was more than a friend passing, it was a sister leaving for good. We saw the community mourn together and attended the prayer services and funeral for that week, listening to the many stories of Mary Clare's great teaching skills (especially in driving, many of the sisters said they never would have learned if not for her) and all the incredible things, all the people she inspired, throughout her whole life.

It was this week that I realized that these women are not what I thought they would be. Many people think of sisters and nuns as stern-faced teachers with a ruler in their hands as they prayed every hour of every day without ceasing. That is just simply untrue. They are not machines that spout out what they are told, they are women who work together, laugh together, cry together, and pray together. They are sisters in everything but blood, brought together through God. And here I am, with the incredible opportunity to see who they truly are.

I know that I will learn a lot from them.

Thanks for listening,
Tory Lanaghan

Ephesians 1:18 - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened so that you can see the hope He has called you to, the riches of His inheritance to His glorious people.

Next in this series: Staying with the Sisters: Week 2 Recap

Also in this series: Staying with the Sisters: Week 1 Recap
                               Staying with the Sisters: A Personal Guide

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