Continuing the legacy

“Sister Honeybunch” — that’s what we called her. I didn’t grow up Catholic, but my mom was the director of a day care center in a Catholic school, so I spent a lot of time with her there; in high school, I was part of a retreat program that held retreats at the nearby convent where Sister Honeybunch lived. Sister Albert — her real name — was a delightful woman who called everyone “honeybunch.” At first, I thought it was just because she was so loving. But as I reflect back, I’m certain it was because she couldn’t remember anyone’s name, and she wanted each person to feel special regardless! She had a profound influence on my life, mostly because of her energy and love and kindness.

When I began my position here with the Precious Blood Sisters, one of the questions I asked each Sister I was fortunate to have a conversation with was, “What inspired you to become a Sister?” Almost every single time, the answer was, “I had teachers who were Sisters.” How wonderful it must have been for those young girls — young middle schoolers and high schoolers — to be surrounded by loving (and yes, there were most likely a stern one or two) and faith-filled servants of God. It is no wonder that during that time, vocations to religious life were bountiful.

This year marks 100 years since the Sisters of the Precious Blood first called Dayton “home.” I reflect on how much things have changed since then. Today’s young women are lucky if they’ve had ANY contact with a religious Sister. In fact, at one of my visits to a local Catholic school’s religion classes, some didn’t even know what a religious Sister is! Students today do not have the same type of constant contact with faith-filled Sisters, brothers and priests like they did in the previous couple of generations. No longer are they influenced and inspired on a daily basis. How can a woman be inspired to contemplate religious life when they have no experience with it?

We must adapt … we must pivot … we must find new ways to reach young women who might be contemplating the call. I don’t have all the answers, that’s for sure, but one of the things we can do is to make sure our Sisters get in contact with students and young adults on a regular basis. It’s why the vocations office is seeking schools that are willing to have the coordinator and Sisters come to speak to students about vocations; why we are encouraging our Sisters to share their stories with the people with whom they come into contact; and why the vocations coordinator has been and will continue to attend conferences around the country promoting religious life and the Sisters of the Precious Blood, and speaking to women who might be contemplating their vocations.

So far, Sisters and I have attended two conferences in Washington, D.C., visited a couple of local Catholic schools, and participated in a run for vocations. Coming up yet this winter are more visits to Catholic schools, a conference in Dallas, a conference in Anaheim and time with our sisters in California working on how we can promote vocations out West.

The Sisters of the Precious Blood have done so much for Dayton and its surrounding communities over the past 100 years — too many things to mention here. But one of the things we must do is promote them — to remember the good they have done — to get the word out that we are a vibrant, active community that continues to live our spirituality in the world. We must encourage women that they, too, could find their “Sister Honeybunch” to touch their lives and inspire them to seek God’s vocation for their lives. I look forward, with our Sisters’ help, to letting young women know that they could find a place here. They could answer God’s call to become a Sister with us, and they can continue the legacy the Sisters of the Precious Blood began so long ago.

— Story by Teri Iverson

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