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Women today are still being called to listen to the Word of Christ, to ponder it and let it dwell in them; to study it and let it challenge them; to be silent and let it be fruitful within them; to celebrate it and let it return to God in praise and prayer.
Sr. Mary of Jesus Wiercinski, O.P.
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Books and apples are among my early memories of growing up in New York's beautiful Hudson valley-apple country. The oldest of three children, I attended Catholic grade and high school, before nurses' training. Many students "taught by the Sisters" wanted to become religious, and while the thought was attractive, I had no inclination toward teaching. During college "I determined that I wanted to help people and work with the poor," an important emphasis of the post-Vatican II Council.
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A vocation usually isn't and was not for me, a trumpet blare, angelic messenger or a scroll written in gold. It's more like a small whisper, a thought or intuition that comes from somewhere...though ultimately Someone. I think that when God calls a person to a religious vocation, it may not always be clear-cut. God is full of surprises.
I worked with, and eventually entered a community of Dominican sisters that had the apostolate of working with the poor through nursing in their homes. Theirs was the only community I found that had visiting nursing as their primary work. I was assigned to work in various parts of the country, primarily in New York State. Through my reading and study, I fell in love with St Dominic during my time with them.
Sent to work in the Bronx, one of my patients was a cloistered nun! That was an eye-opener, because the monastic contemplative life was not much mentioned, seen or heard about, and Dominican monasteries seemed even rarer. I had avidly devoured St. Therese's Story of a Soul. In seeking a community, I had spoken to an advisor about a community like St. Therese's [that is a contemplative monastic group], only to be encouraged to join an active group involved with the world, where my nursing could be put to good use.
Eventually I was transferred to Harlem and then, out of state. I decided to leave the community to return to hospital work, and to test the possibility of "the Cloister". Visiting the monastery a number of times, I made a retreat, and finally asked to enter. After Profession, I remained there for thirty-three years, transferring to Elmira in 2007.
I needed to discover the Dominican Order with its emphasis on the Word of God; where prayer and contemplation were the basis of the life. For many years before entering, I had a Eucharistic spirituality with Mass and adoration; I was led to pray for priests. This was very compatible with Dominican monastic life.
I still like books [mysteries, history and biographies], and have developed a taste for astronomy. Star-gazing, I find, can also be an act of worship. One of my favorite authors said, "Not all who wander are lost". Each time my God of surprises led me to a move; it was not aimless, but ordered.