By now, I'm sure you've figured out that I'm talking about my Sisters, the Daughters of Charity. And you might be thinking "ugh, what a cheesy way to say that". But ha! You are half wrong! Yes, it probably is a trite way to illustrate the "family feeling" there is between the Sisters. However, I'm not only talking about the 14,000 Daughters of Charity around the world, I'm talking about all religious around the world.
In the past few months, thanks to the young adult group I belong to, I've been able to meet many religious from a whole array of congregations - the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Nashville Dominicans, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters and the All Saints Sisters. Although I wasn't joining their community, they smiled when I shared with them my discernment with the Daughters and rejoiced with me when I was accepted.
I grew particularly close to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were not only very active in our young adult group but also seemed to pop up unexpectedly since I met them. My vocation is not with them but I do feel quite a friendship with them. Interestingly enough, many of the residents of the nursing home of the Little Sisters are relatives of Daughters of Charity! Anyway, the day before I was to leave for prepostulancy, I stopped by their house and talked in length with two Sisters I had grown close to. One is not much older than I am and we bonded over our love of yarn (hey, don't judge). She gave me good advice about entering and, as we hugged goodbye, I felt a deep sense of family, even though she wears a different habit, works in a different ministry, etc.
I think many people think a girl is losing family when she enters religious life. They couldn't be more wrong. I feel that my family has practically exploded in growth. I could write in length about how I've grown to see many Daughters of Charity and other Sisters as sisters, but the gist is that you gain so many sisters - of different ages, of different backgrounds - that aren't connected with you through blood but through love of the same lifestyle, through love of the same vows. (Also, I cannot speak for other communities but, on a more practical note, the Daughters allow yearly home visits and encourage constant communication with your "blood" family.)
That same yarn-loving Little Sister of the Poor I talked about wrote this to me, it made me laugh and I had to share: "There is something so deep among Sisters, no matter what Congregation we are part of. It's the bond of Christ's love as our Spouse! Aren't we lucky ducks?!"