In the summer of 2004 I spent time living at the Saint Francis Inn in Kensington, Philadelphia volunteering with the mixed Franciscan community there. In a short time I had become attached to the many people with whom I interacted that summer. On my final day there an elderly Irish woman who regularly volunteered her morning hours to serve breakfast sent me forth with these words, "I know, as God as my witness, someday you will return to us as a Franciscan sister." As I respect my elders I did not snap at her with the ferocity I typically expressed at such a comment, she was too gentle for that, and so I resolved to simply smile and say, "you never know." In my head it went more like, "hell no!"
I think in some ways my intense rejection of religious life came more from a deep unconscious belief that it was exactly what I was suppose to be doing with my life but something, in many ways, for which I was not ready. Now, I look back on that white-haired, Irish woman and think, yeah, you're right! I wonder what she saw that I was not willing to see within myself? I was recently told that she has passed away, I hope that she is able to see my life and know what her revelation has done for me.
Last week I was at a Assisi House with Sr. Pat Hutchison and Sr. Mary Ann McCarthy to thank the sisters who had assisted us with preparations for Neumann University's Welcome Back Day. Many of the sisters there helped us fold thousands of note cards that we then distributed to the University community. One of the sisters, at the conclusion of our time together, expressed how happy she was that I was a candidate with the community, and hoped that I would stay put for life. I quickly turned to her and said, "well, I pray every morning that I live as a holy franciscan and die as such in the community!" There was an eruption of laughter, quickly followed by, "AND YOU KEEP PRAYING THAT!"
Well sister, I will!
Holy Father saint francis
be with me and our entire community.
Guide all the labors of our vocation
obtain for us a great love for jesus and his mother
aid us that we may live as holy Franciscans
and die as such in the community.