Did you know that the Sisters of Life were founded by the late Cardinal John O’ Connor to serve the Church and, in particular, to spread the pro-life teachings of our faith and fight against the culture of death? And as this is the Year of Consecrated Life, let’s just take a few moments and send up a prayer or two for this religious order.
You might also be interested in this article that recently ran in the NY Times regarding the Sisters of Life…”Nuns of a New Generation Forge Their Own Path”…
The members may hold to traditional teachings, but as they see it, there is nothing more countercultural in 2015 than a young woman’s becoming a nun — eschewing careerism, material possessions, sex.
All of the 84 Sisters of Life have joined since 1991, when Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who was the archbishop of New York, founded the order. Ten postulants, or first-year members, are expected in September. On Thursday, at the order’s retreat center in Stamford, Conn., eight sisters professed “final vows,” making a commitment for life. To the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Sisters of Life add a fourth vow, “to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.”
“They have a very clearly defined focus,” said Brother Paul Bednarczyk, the executive director of the of National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago. “There was a very real need which Cardinal O’Connor responded to, and that real need captures the imagination of younger women.”
The Sisters of Life work with about 1,000 pregnant women a year, at several sites including a home for expectant and unwed mothers in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan, a mission on the East Side of Manhattan and a mission in Toronto. They operate a house for first-year members in the Bronx. Last year, at their Stamford retreat center, more than 4,000 people attended retreats, including weekends for women “healing after abortion.” Next month, four sisters are opening the order’s newest mission in Denver.
“Our experience is that once a woman is given the love and practical support that she needs and deserves, she almost always desires to carry her baby to term,” said Sister Mary Elizabeth, who was acting as a spokeswoman for the group.
The idea of religious sisters as brides of Christ is easily lampooned. But the metaphor isn’t just a pretty substitute for the weddings and husbands they give up. Just as the ideal of conventional marriage calls upon husbands and wives to rise above themselves to put their spouses first, so it is for these nuns.
For it is precisely the abandonment of self to Christ that sustains these women in those moments when perhaps they’d rather not obey, when they might prefer not to get out of bed in the middle of the night to help a pregnant mother who is throwing up in the next room.
In other words, the vows they make today and the rings they received as a sign of these vows isn’t about “no.” It’s about a radical “yes,” an echo of the assent given more than two millennia ago by a Jewish girl in Nazareth: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word. Or, as a young redhead in Florida says she put it in her own prayer when she first considered religious life: “You know that I’ve had my wedding planned since kindergarten . . . but I can take a hint if you want me to be Yours.”
While I was on retreat at Spiritual Direction School, (my Summer Jesus Camp), I met a couple of fabulous sisters from this order who were also learning to be spiritual directors. In fact, one went to the same high school I attended, albeit she graduated several years after me. I was just happy to meet another native New Yorker in Florida. (What am I saying? Florida is full of native New York transplants. But I digress…)
If you’re a fan of helping women through crisis pregnancies, or you know a woman who needs to heal following an abortion, I highly recommend the Sisters of Life for counseling and retreats! Find more details about their mission here and their retreats here.
Learn more about the Sisters of Life, celebrating 24 years on June 1.
I’m hoping you’ll join me for a day-long retreat just for us girls! This women’s event, even though it is on Mother’s Day Weekend, is not just for Moms! We love Moms, of course! But the day is a celebration of the feminine genius — and that’s all women! I’ll be offering three talks on the three aspects I covered in Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious — our blessed dignity, our beautiful gifts, and our bodacious — most excellent — mission!
This event is sponsored by “Be It Done” Catholic Women’s Ministries representing women from six different parishes from the Catholic Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, and hosted at St Vincent de Paul parish in Elkhart.
Give yourself and your girlfriends the gift of faith, fellowship, food, and fun! All the details are here.
The #MediaNuns offer “Media Apostle: The Father James Alberione Story” — a documentary about an early media evangelist
Before God sent the media world Bishop Fulton Sheen, we had Father James Alberione. Pope Francis calls Blessed Father James Alberione a “great apostle of communications.” This new movie about Alberione’s life, Media Apostle, is produced and directed by the Daughters of St Paul and Pauline Media.
Watch the trailer…
From the film’s website:
Blessed Father James Alberione, SSP, 1884-1971, was a priest from Northern Italy who had profound insight into the world of media and did much to get the Church evangelizing with the latest media technology. He founded the PaulineFamily.com, 10 congregations and institutes of bishops, priests, religious and laity–forming them in his Pauline apostolic spirituality, and calling them to be St. Paul the Apostle living today. Father Alberione’s official international website: Alberione.org.
Watch the film in a 50 minute or 90 minute video format. You can rent the short or long versions for $2.99 and $3.99 respectively. Or you can purchase the film for $12.99.
I watched the 90 minute version and learned a lot about this priest whose work has influenced millions through the Pauline Family! That 90 minute version is a great length for personal and home viewing. Yet the shorter version might better fit a religious education setting, or a event whereby you want to have time to discuss the film afterwards.
Speaking of the Daughters of St Paul, the Boston Globe featured their work this week in this article.
Here’s an excerpt featuring Sr Helena Burns, FSP, the writer/director of Media Apostle. (You might recall her being a former guest on my podcast, Among Women.)
“Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, had this sense that whatever the new [technology] was you grab it and use it for the gospel,” said Sister Helena Burns, a Pauline stationed in Toronto who originally hails from Belmont. “He had a very comprehensive vision. . . . It was not all religion, religion and preachy, preachy.”
In honor of the order’s centenary year, a documentary about Alberione debuted this month. Today he is known as the “Media Apostle,” though Pope John Paul II called him “the first apostle of the new evangelization.” The film, which took seven years, is a first for the order and was written and directed by Burns, who studied screenwriting at UCLA. It can be purchased or rented at Mediaapostle.com and streamed online.
In lessons she teaches on media literacy, Burns looks at intention and consumption in this world of endless information.
Following the example of their founder, these nuns embrace new technology. On any given day, divine petitions could be tweeted in 140 characters or said aloud. Retreats at the convent and feast days are celebrated and honored in the chapel and online. Instagram captures the daily life of a Pauline with filtered photos and the occasional biblical meme.
Here’s a fun bonus:
Ten Principles of Civil Communication: A great way to engage conversation and the new evangelization!
Yes, you too can be an evangelist in your own way.
Thanks to Catholic Voices, a lot more people are being trained in communication of the Catholic faith in the media and marketplace of ideas. I really benefitted from their training, and I heartily recommend Austin Ivereigh’s book, around which much of the training revolved: How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice.
With this great pamphlet, “Ten Principles of Civil Communication”, you’ll get a short cut to remembering the best ideas and best practices for sharing our Catholic faith in the media, and in conversations with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.
The Top 3 principles are these:
1. Look for the positive intention behind the criticism.
2. Shed light, not heat.
3. People won’t remember so much of what you said, but how you made them feel.
A note of caution, you’ve got to buy this pamphlet in sets of 50, that’s just how its sold. Naturally, the publisher thinks the majority of people buying it are purchasing it for parishes, dioceses, or organizations. And if you work in a church, or a Catholic organization, you should share these principles with your membership. My bible study group and local friends are getting a copy of this as soon as my batch of 50 is shipped to me.
Meanwhile, I’m writing to the publisher today and suggesting it be able to sold in smaller quantities, too. But in the absence of actually buying a personal copy, by all means read through the PDF pamphlet and get a tune-up on your ability to witness for the Church.
In this latest episode of Among Women, I discuss the unscheduled hiatus of the show in the last couple of months, as well as my forays into the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. I also welcome my guest, Sr Theresa Aletheia Noble FSP, author of a new book from Pauline Books and Media, The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. St Theresa is a former atheist who returned to the Catholic faith after encountering Catholics whose authentic faith and joy won her over. In this conversation Sr Theresa offers three tip for helping us invite our loved ones back into the Church… the most important of which is to lead with humility.
Finally we explore the life of a 14th century saint, St Dorothy of Montau, whose humility and gentility won the hearts of her husband to Catholicism, as well as many others. Don’t miss the return of Among Women with this newest episode.
To find a vocations director in the USA, go here.
This video is part of a larger project in development for teens, Altaration, on teaching love for the Mass, from Ascension Press.
A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras — Catholic book enthusiast, Allison Gingras, unpacks a new book each week. Whether you read along or choose to just listen along, Allison promises that anyone with a seeking heart will always be glad they tuned in. The website says that the book selections will span all genres, from faith sharing to murder- mystery; biographical to bible study, and much more. Listen on Real Life Radio. I’ll be a guest on Allison’s show this Friday, talking about Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious!
Lisa Hendey has re-invented her former podcast, Catholic Moments, on Radio Maria. Listen to Catholic Moments, and enjoy her first show here with guests Fr Robert Reed of Catholic TV, and author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.
I’m so excited for these good women, who are good friends. Listen to them!