Women sample religious life

  • September 28, 2007
{mosimage}SASKATOON - Nicole Germaine decided that in order to figure out if she is meant to be a nun she needed to sample religious life firsthand.  

“I think that you don’t know what religious life is like and you can’t make a decision on it until you experience it yourself,” said the 21-year-old psychology major at the University of Saskatoon.

Germaine is one of nine women between the ages of 18 and 27 who will live together with four Sisters of the Presentation of Mary for eight months at the Discernment House.

The Sisters opened their doors 21 years ago to give young, single, Catholic women from across Canada and abroad, who are working or going to university, a chance to live in a Christian faith community with the option of focused vocation discernment, if requested.

The Sisters’ spirituality is to evangelize youth, which is the main reason why they opened the house.

{sidebar id=2}“We saw a need for youth to have direction,” said house director Sr. Chantelle Bonk.

This year the Sisters were able to offer rent, meals and spiritual direction for $425 per month.

“We want our doors to be open to everyone,” said Bonk. “Part of who we are is to reach out to those who have less and provide them with opportunities they need as well.”

The women commit to daily morning and evening prayer, eucharistic adoration prayer once per week and a community night weekly where the women eat together and study Scripture.

“I’ve lived on my own for the past three years and coming here, having to live under someone else’s rules, has probably been the hardest thing, but I’m getting used to it,” said  Germaine of Paradise Hill, Sask. “Spiritual direction is probably a highlight for me (because) I’ve never had a spiritual director before.”

“The whole year is really about getting in touch with our giftedness and brokenness and challenging one another to grow,” said Bonk, who provides one-on-one spiritual direction for all the women.

“This house is about really supporting one another in our journey. They’ve really developed some really deep and profound friendships,” said the 39-year-old Sister, who was a product of the house eight years ago.

After Stephanie Belanger spent two years at the house, she discerned a religious vocation upon leaving last spring. She said she learned to appreciate community life and living so closely with Sisters broke down stereotypes she held about religious.

“I wasn’t sure that religious women actually shaved their legs, but they do,” said the 22-year-old third-year University of Saskatchewan music education major. “On a deeper level I see a lot of joy.... More times than not they are very content and happy women, and that speaks volumes (in) a world that says if you don’t get married you will be unhappy and lonely for the rest of your life.”

Bonk said while women have discerned a religious vocation, many get married or remain single.

“We’ve had women walk out of here in their wedding dress. If you are only discerning one vocation, then it’s not discerning.

“We’re not here to crank out sisters for our community; we are a service for the church.”

Aside from the live-in program, the Sisters also offer discernment retreats at the house for single young Catholic men and women.

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