Three good friends, two postulants and one discerner. Three amazing vocations directors, one from Baltimore, one from Indiana, one from California.
Setting: Evansville, Indiana - home of many geese, jokingly the "Witness Protection" capital of the country, and home of the Seminary (novitiate) of the Daughters of Charity and a Sisters' retirement home.
All of that made from an amazing retreat.
It really led me to reflect on how much I absolutely love this community. There is no perfect community (if you're a discerner looking for one, sorry but you won't find it) However, the Daughters of Charity are the perfect community for me. There's something exhuberantly joyful about not only fitting into a community, but also them "fitting into you". The Daughters aren't for everyone - some are looking for something more contemplative, others are looking for a community that are only teachers or nurses, others are looking for a community without a habit, others are attracted to the spirituality of St Francis or St John Bosco or St Paul, etc - but they are definitely for me.
So, why do I love the Daughters? Here are my top 10 reasons:
|The Motherhouse chapel|
9) They still have a habit. Certainly not reason #1, but there's something comforting about a Sister in habit, even our simple dress in blue. Plus, there's the option of the wearing the coif (veil) or not.
8) Their life is a balance of contemplation and action. St Vincent emphasized that service doesn't mean anything if we don't pray as well. We pray as a community twice a day as well as at meals. We have "Sharing" every week, which is a way for us to share spiritual reflections with each other, whether it be about our ministry or something else. In preparation for a life of service to the poor, the Daughters have Seminary, similar to a novitiate in a religious order - almost two years of contemplation, prayer, and reflection.
6) The Daughters of Charity have a long list of saints and blesseds, with more on the way. Of the saints, we're the community of the patron saint of social workers, a young woman whom Mary appeared to, and the first American-born saint. Of the blesseds, there's a long list including martyrs of the French revolution, the first beatified Brazilian and a French Sister who served the poor (and rich) without counting the cost.
5) Their history is fascinating. From the founding in 1633 when St Vincent de Paul discovered a sly way of getting around the canonical rule that Sisters had to be cloistered, to the French Revolution when so many Sisters were martyred, to the 1800s with St Elizabeth Ann Seton and her community (which eventually combined with the Daughters) to the present with so many Sisters serving in so many different ways.
3) The Daughters are so down to earth. Maybe it's part of their charism - after all, our Founders Prayer says "at their school, teach us to love in the strength of our arm and the sweat of our brow". Or their history - they were the first Sisters that went out in the world to serve others. Whatever it is, they don't pretend to be perfect and don't show themselves as anything more or less than servants of the poor. Another related reason - besides the habit, none of them are the same. There is no "cookie-cutter" Daughter of Charity. One saying goes "when you've met one Daughter of Charity....you've met one Daughter of Charity"
2) Their entire mission is to serve Christ in the poor. Nothing less. And that means doing it in whatever way is needed, where it is needed, etc.
And that means everything.