No two souls are called to serve God in the exact same way. This was illustrated at the first “FIAT Discernment Morning for Women” held May 2 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Phoenix.
The event was organized by Mercy Sister Anthony Mary Diago, director of the Office of Consecrated Life. The purpose of the day was to give young women an opportunity to learn more about religious life and to question whether or not they are being called to it.
Sr. Mary Eileen Jewell of the congregation of Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate explained the importance of organizing a discernment event in the diocese.
“The culture today is more about relationships, not even marriage but just being in relationships, and so the idea of consecrating yourself to Christ is very, very foreign to the culture,” Sr. Mary Eileen said. “All the vocations are beautiful and we need to present all the vocations, but consecrated life especially tends to be the softest voice that people have a hard time hearing.”
Vocations Director Fr. Paul Sullivan began the day by celebrating Mass. Afterwards, representatives from five women’s religious communities participated in a vocations forum. These orders included the Religious Sisters of Mercy, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate.
Young women from throughout the Valley listened intently, as sisters of all ages shared the unique stories of how they were called to become a bride of Christ.
Daughters of Charity Sr. Cabrini Thomas, said that her vocation brings deep happiness. “The joy for me is to be able to give my whole life to God, for the service of people who are less fortunate than I am,” Sr. Marie said. “To be of service to Him is my greatest joy.”
All the women who attended were given the chance to ask questions, which ranged from “How do I go about seeking spiritual direction?” to “How do I pay off my student loans before entering a convent?” to “How do you move forward if you think God is calling you?”
One woman from Gilbert, who participated in the day’s events, expressed that there is truly a need for Days of Discernment. “We’re all called to something and some of us are questioning that… We just need that guidance,” she said. “I think there are some people that just automatically assume they’re called to marriage and they don’t ever question another vocation. The possibility of a religious vocation shouldn’t be something scary because it’s what God wills for you and He’ll let you know.”
Organizers of the event hope that more days of discernment will be held in the Diocese of Phoenix in the future.
“The Holy Spirit never stops calling people to consecrated life,” Sr. Mary Eileen said. “We just have to facilitate the call.”