Dominican Sister Discerned Vocation in ‘Silence’ of College Chapels - Cardinal Newman Society

Dominican Sister Discerned Vocation in ‘Silence’ of College Chapels

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our new “Profiles in Faithful Catholic Education” series which features graduates of faithful Catholic schools and Newman Guide colleges who are leading the renewal of the Church. Other recent profiles can be found here and here.

For one Dominican sister, two years on a faithful Catholic college campus were just what she needed to discern her vocation to religious life.

Sister Bernadette Marie of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn., said that during her high school years she realized that the “secular environment of a public university” would not provide her with a “strong faith-based community.” As she explored potential colleges, her wish-list included “daily Mass, times of Adoration, and a strong community.” When she visited Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., which is recommended in The Newman Guide, she “fell in love with the Catholic environment immediately.”

During college, Sr. Bernadette Marie studied theology, education and art and became involved with many activities on campus, including intramural sports and Bible studies. She formed great friendships with her peers, who encouraged her to grow in her relationship with Christ and “become a better all-around person.” She also met professors who cared about her “spiritual and academic growth.”

“At Benedictine College, I was blessed to see many adults living their vocation to the full,” said Sr. Bernadette Marie. “I recall with fondness praying early morning rosaries with President Minnis and other students… witnessing the gift and sacrificial love of families through resident hall directors and their young families. The Benedictine monks and other religious sisters studying on campus helped me to see that total dedication to God was a joyful sacrifice of love.”

There were many elements of life on the faithful Catholic college campus that helped Sr. Bernadette Marie to be open to her vocation — a vocation which she had inklings of earlier in her life. But she says that she discerned her vocation “first and foremost in the silence of the chapels on the campus.”

After just two years at Benedictine College, Sr. Bernadette Marie left campus to begin a new adventure with the Nashville Dominicans, whose apostolate is Catholic education. The sisters, who wear long white habits, are dedicated to a life of prayer and have a strong sense of community. After additional formation, Sr. Bernadette Marie taught second grade students for several years, helping prepare them for their sacraments. Now she serves in the vocations office of her community, which allows her to meet with young women on college campuses who are “thirsting for the truth and a deeper relationship with Christ.”

When it comes to her own journey, Sr. Bernadette Marie is full of gratitude and “overwhelmed by the incredible gift” she received at a faithful Catholic college. “I knew that the Lord had to be calling me to something even better in the convent because I had been so happy at Benedictine,” she said.

KELLY SALOMON is director of education and advocacy for The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education.

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