Michelle Kam, left, and Jennifer Ellis regularly partake in the Daughters of St. Paul’s Discernment Saturdays. Photo by Vanessa Santilli

Helping find God’s place for you

By  Vanessa Santilli, Catholic Register Special
  • April 11, 2014

TORONTO - For the past two years, Jennifer Ellis has been spending Saturday afternoons in good company.

At the Daughters of St. Paul’s monthly Discernment Saturdays, women between the ages of 16 and 35 are given an opportunity to discuss different spiritual themes found in He Speaks to You, a daily discernment book by vocation director Sr. Helena Burns, as well as  participate in lectio divina, eucharistic adoration and a Q & A with Burns about religious life.

“It’s a very grace-filled time,” said Ellis, a second-year early childhood education student at Toronto’s George Brown College.

Ellis, who has applied to enter the Daughters of St. Paul, recalls her first visit to the convent.

“When I went there and read Scripture with them, that made me think that God was calling me to that order in particular,” she said. “Up until then, I had been looking at different orders but I never felt God speaking to me. That was the first time I really felt the tug at my heart.”

Regular participant Michelle Kam, a web developer, enjoys being in community with other attendees.

“It’a a wonderful support to be able to chat with other young women who are also discerning their vocations and seeking God’s will for their lives.”

She has found the suggested reading to be an effective guide.

“It has helped me be more sensitive to God’s voice and abiding presence as I go about my daily life,” she said.

While the numbers were higher in the past, the average turnout recently is four or five young women each month, said Burns. The meetings are held monthly at the Pauline Books and Media Centre in Toronto.

“But even though we have small numbers, I think it’s important to be consistent and keep the days going each month,” said Burns.

She believes the events are helpful in removing some of the fear that can be associated with religious life.

“They might be thinking ‘this is so strange and weird. Can God possibly be calling me to this?’ And then they realize we’re normal.”

Burns adds that the monthly event isn’t about pressuring people to enter religious life or to choose their order in particular.

“We want to find out what the will of God is for you,” said Burns. “And we’ll help you do that. Even if it’s not our community.”

To contact Burns, call (416) 781-9131 ext. 226 or e-mail hburns@paulinemedia.com.

(Santilli is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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