Left, Marianist Sister Nicole Trahan discusses her vocation during the Martha Dinner on Jan. 14 at Ascension Parish in Kettering; middle, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr gives his remarks during the Martha Dinner; right, Poor Clare Sister Luisa Bayate, left, and Precious Blood Sister Marla Gipson listen during the Martha Dinner.
DAYTON – The first chapter of Luke tells the story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary with news that she will become pregnant and bear a son to be named Jesus. Though she wonders how this can be, she remains open to God’s call and fulfills the plan God had for her.
“Mary had to be perplexed as to what all this meant,” Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr said in remarks during a Jan. 14 Martha Dinner at Ascension Parish in Kettering. “She is a woman who certainly wants to do the will of God.”
Like Mary, people discerning religious life today hear God’s call through prayer, Archbishop Schnurr explained, adding that God has a plan for each of us and gives us talents to live out that plan.
Sponsored by Vocations Coordinators in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas, the dinner enabled high school girls and young women to interact with Sisters from a dozen women religious communities. More than 20 young women attended the event. Displays highlighted each community’s various ministries and geographic areas in which they serve. Women mingled and socialized with the Sisters for more than two hours.
Sisters offered information about their community’s charisms and spoke to young women about their own call to religious life.
In sharing her story, Marianist Sister Nicole Trahan explained that discernment can require opening one’s heart to the idea of religious life. A lay Marianist for three years, Sister Nicole continued to grow and deepen in her understanding of the Marianist charism, but she felt that something was missing. For her, that was community, and that’s why she began to contemplate religious life.
“So often when we talk about a call there is a temptation to believe that God’s ‘call’ comes clearly from outside ourselves – like a sign in the sky or a clear message in a homily,” Sister Nicole said. “For me, and often for others, God’s call comes to use in subtle, gentle ways – God moving in our hearts, in our minds in the depth of our beings.”
Like Archbishop Schnurr, Sister Nicole encouraged the women to pray as they discern if God is calling them to religious life. Other suggestions are to celebrate the sacraments regularly, engage in spiritual direction, spend time with sisters attend discernment retreats and get to know oneself.
Bridget Miller, a Cloverdale, Ohio, native and a student at Capital University in Columbus, is discerning religious life. She attended the Martha Dinner and enjoyed meeting other women who are also in discernment.
“I think it helps you knowing there are other people going through this,” Miller said. “Whether it’s the Sister or people attending, I can take that extra energy to search a little farther, go a little deeper in prayer. It’s like guidance and motivation.”
Story and photos by Dave Eck