Sister Mary Dorothy
Sister Mary Grace
Today we celebrate the anniversary of First Monastic Profession by our Sisters Mary Dorothy and Mary Grace.
It was on this day in 1947 that they gave their lives to God, realizing the calling to monastic, contemplative life. Do the math and you’ll see they’ve been committed to their calling for 64 years!
Sister Mary Dorothy: When she was young and visited her aunt in tiny Clyde, Mo., she would look up hill at the Benedictine monastery, hear the bells ringing and wonder what the Sisters were doing at that very moment.
Her curiosity was rewarded in a most satisfactory way, celebrating more than 60 years of monastic profession as a Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration.
“I’ve known since I was 12 years old that I was called to religious life,” the Iowa native said. “The visits to Clyde made me realize this is where God wants me, and that conviction is still strong today.”
During her years as a Benedictine Sister, she served as the oblate director at the Tucson monastery for almost three decades and recalls the oblates with great fondness.
“They were a real inspiration, so zealous in seeking God and desiring to share in our Benedictine way of life,” she said. “They challenged my own spiritual growth.”
She now spends her time working in Clyde’s correspondence department, answering letters and prayer requests from people around the world. Some have written for more than 50 years, sharing their lives, their faith, their experiences and their problems.
“We’ve experienced so many technological changes, from simple typewriters to computers, e-mail and all other new advances,” she said.
But some things never change, such as what is in the hearts of those who write to the Sisters.
“People look to us for help and guidance, and we receive so much more from them,” she said.
It is a calling which she has no regrets answering. Celebrating the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, adoration and prayer and the various types of work provide a well-balanced life as St. Benedict prescribed in his Rule.
“The adoration of Christ in the Eucharist brought me here so long ago, and it keeps me going,” she said.
For those discerning a religious life, Sister Mary Dorothy’s words of advice are simple, “If God is calling, don’t keep him waiting. He is more than enough to fulfill all one could desire.”
Sister Mary Grace: “Sisters don’t come ready made.”
That thought occurred to Sister Mary Grace when she was a young girl, struggling to decide if God was calling her to religious life.
“I knew that it took a lot of work. I asked my blood sister (Benedictine Sister Mary Stella) if it was a sin to be a sister if you didn’t want to be one,” Sister Mary Grace said. “She laughed and quickly answered, ‘No.’”
Sister Mary Grace attended Catholic schools in her hometown of Nashville, Tenn., but never received that life-changing lightening bolt from God calling her to follow the life of a monk.
“A high school friend asked me to attend an investiture ceremony with her, and I didn’t really want to go,” she said. “However, I knew she’d be disappointed, so I went. After I got home I thought maybe religious life wasn’t so bad, but I still had my doubts.”
After graduation, she spent a year working in the private sector and writing letters to Sister Mary Stella who had joined the Benedictine Sisters three years earlier.
Sister Mary Grace told her sister she was still trying to decide if religious life was her calling. Until finally one day she had to answer the question, “Well, are you or aren’t you?”
She decided she was. “I didn’t want to teach or nurse,” she said. “I loved the idea of leading a contemplative life, so this was the right fit for me.”