Note: Nov. 7-13 is National Vocation Awareness Week.
By Benedictine Sister Laura Suhr
The first time I ever remember considering a call to religious life i was in sixth grade. And, honestly, I really wouldn’t even use the word “considering” at that point. My teacher was talking about how excited she was that a student she had taught was recently ordained a priest. He had known in sixth grade already that he wanted to be a priest, and now he was going to say his first mass at his home parish. I remember thinking, “Wow! He knew in sixth grade he was going to be a priest. I wonder if I am called to be a nun?”
And that was it. It was a brief and fleeting thought. A thought that would leave me for many years. It was not something I consciously ignored; it just disappeared until I was ready to reflect and discern what that might mean. Nevertheless, a seed was planted.
Starting from an early age, I would always tell people, “I want to be a mom when I grow up.” There was never a career I was overly interested in; I wanted to be a mom and have 12 kids. In high school I was friends with boys, but I didn’t do much dating. I was sure that I was going to meet “Mr. Right” my first year of college, we would date, fall in love and get married and have kids within a few years of graduation. It felt like a great, holy plan. And for some people that is God’s plan for them, and I recognized marriage as a beautiful and valid calling. But during college I began to question if that was God’s plan for me.
When I was a first-year student in college, the sisters had a booth set up where you could sign up to come and visit them — not a discernment weekend, just a come-and-get-to-know-the-sisters weekend. I walked quickly past this booth. But then I stopped, I was physically unable to move forward. I had to turn back and check it out. It wasn’t something I could not, not do. When I talked to the sister, I felt a huge sigh of relief when I looked at the dates and realized I had commitments that weekend. The sister was very kind and assured me that these opportunities occurred regularly. I felt a sense of peace, and life went on without much more thought about religious life at that point.
As college continued and I did some dating, this question lingered in the back of my head: “What if I am called to be a sister?” I knew I only wanted to date to pursue marriage, so continuing to date didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Yet, it was not until my senior year when I really began my discernment.
I began meeting with some sisters and other women in college who were also discerning. We read articles about religious life and explored what a vocation to religious life entails. This was a helpful step, but after graduation I realized I needed to look at some other orders as well. I visited several communities throughout the United States. At each, I felt surrounded by wonderful holy women living out their call, but something always made me think of St. Ben’s. The seed of my vocation was beginning to sprout.
After looking at different orders, I felt confident I was called to religious life. Although I didn’t have clear reasoning, I knew St. Benedict’s Monastery felt like where I was supposed to be. As I continue my discernment journey toward final profession, learning and growing in my understanding of the Benedictine way of life, I continue to have a sense of peace and joy in living my life in this way. I want to live with this community, following the Rule of St. Benedict. I appreciate the strong sense of community, living and praying Liturgy of the Hours together three times a day.
As I continue to recognize that my desire to be a mom was really a call to love many people and that I can live out that desire in a meaningful way, although differently than I initially expected, I have a sense of gratitude and awe. When we trust God, we are led in unexpected directions, but always in a way that leads to a deeper relationship and love of God and others than we ever imagined.
Benedictine Sister Laura Suhr is a sister at St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph.
Photo: Dianne Towalski/The Central Minnesota Catholic
LEARN MORE: Sister Laura also coordinates Girls, God and Good Times summer camp for girls in grades 4–12 on the campus of the College of St. Benedict. For more information, visit the sisters’ website at https://sbm.osb.org, click on “Ministries,” then “3G Camp.” Or call the monastery at 320-363-7100 and ask for Sister Laura. You may also email her at email@example.com.