Sister Joyce Lehman • President, Sisters of the Precious Blood
God calls each of us to fulfill the dream God has dreamed for us. In the Scriptures, God called Abraham and Sarah to leave their homeland so they could be the beginning of a new nation. God called Isaiah and Jeremiah to be prophets even though the first claimed he could not speak and the second claimed he was too young. God called Mary to be the Mother of our Savior and she tested God by saying, “I know not man.” God called Paul, and had to knock him off his proverbial horse, to stop persecuting the followers of Jesus and become one himself, spreading the Gospel to the Jewish and Gentile worlds. Although our call may not be dramatic but is rather that “still, small voice” (I Kings 19:12), God does call each of us to a way of life that fulfills who we can be in our best selves.
Years ago as part of a team which travelled to different high schools in a diocese to talk about vocations, especially to the priesthood and religious life, the dream analogy presented itself. In reflecting and praying about what I might say that could possibly make sense to teenagers, I was inspired to talk about how, when God created each one of us, God dreamed a dream of that person as God hoped each would become. And then God gave each of us the gifts that we would need to live out that dream. So if God dreamed of us as single, or married, or sister, brother or priest, we could be assured that we would have the gifts to live that life faithfully and joyfully.
In the rest of this issue you will find some facts about vocations to consecrated life today. Historically God has always called individuals to different vocations to meet the needs of God’s people. Today, although we might think there is a “vocation crisis” because fewer women and men are entering consecrated life, this may in fact be the way God is calling all Christians to do those things that consecrated religious have traditionally done for the past 200 years. One thing is sure, we can trust that God is calling whomever is needed to serve God’s people, the church and the world.
It is important for each of us to continue to listen to God’s “still, small voice” within us as we try faithfully to live our vocation daily. Being called is not a “one and done” kind of thing. It takes a daily recommitment as we face the changes, challenges and encounters that are part of our lives. Times change, people change, the world around us changes, yet God’s call remains constant. It is by daily recommitting ourselves to that call that it is possible to remain faithful to a spouse, a community, the church, our commitment.
And speaking of changes, at the end of June the Sisters of the Precious Blood will gather to do the work of looking to our future and listening to how God is calling us to respond to the needs of this time in history. We will explore together the living out of our commitment as consecrated religious in a world so much in need of Good News, of the New Life of the Resurrected Jesus and of the reconciliation that unites. One part of our gathering is the selection of new leadership for the Congregation — five women who will help all of us hold the vision and mission of who we are and who we hope to become.
With that selection I will be bidding adieu to the role of President and to the privilege of writing this column. For eight years I have tried to find something meaningful to say and have found that God provides even when my poor brain feels there is nothing more to say. I thank all of you who read Sharing and Caring for letting us tell our story and for sharing our life with you.