After College I worked in an Accountancy Firm, in Tax Consultancy and qualified as a Chartered Accountant shortly before I entered here. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a Religious. It always seemed to me to be the only possible response to God’s great love for me. As a child I was absolutely convinced that God loved me and so I was determined to do something ‘great’ for God when I grew up. Of course that didn’t mean that I was a particularly good child – I was waiting until I grew up!
It was only later on that I realised that it wasn’t I who would do something ‘great’ for God but that God was doing something ‘great’ for me. The year after finishing college I decided to begin ‘discerning’ my vocation by meeting religious orders. Everything about the Dominicans appealed to me – especially their motto “Truth” and the fact that they were founded to preach the Word of God. Their idea of study and contemplation in order to know God had a great appeal for me as I have always longed to ‘know’ God better – you cannot love someone you don’t know.
One of the most frequent questions I was asked was why choose to be enclosed, why not join an active congregation and ‘do some good’?
1. The core of it is that I think here is where God wants me to be and so that is what I’m doing. Sometimes I think of it like being an artery in the Body of Christ. By being here and open to God’s Will, grace can flow through the ‘artery’ to the world. I’m not aware of it, or of who is benefiting but the important thing is to be open to God. I believe that many of the problems of the world today can only be solved with the help of prayer.
2. Ever since I was a child I have been gutted by Jesus’ question in the Garden of Gethsemene “Could you not watch one hour with me?” (Mt 26:40 & Mk 14:37). What Jesus was looking for was so little but the disciples slept. When I read this as a child my heart ached for Jesus’ sadness and his disappointment and I decided that I would ‘watch with Him’. Here in that line I see Jesus appealing for companionship, for those who will stay with Him, i.e. for contemplatives.
I would like to mention some things which have particularly impressed me since I entered here.
To those who are considering a vocation I would say: “Jesus continues to call young people to follow him. If you think you might have a vocation you are not alone. Sr Niamh – who made her profession last year in our community – and I have met many others who are discerning a vocation to our own or other communities and others who have just entered religious life – Have courage, do not be afraid to try!”
I think, if I’m honest, a part of me has always known that I would grow up and be a nun. But the rest of me didn’t want to know it. The rest of me was hoping for something else, something ‘better’. God blessed me with a very happy family, with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents who always enjoyed being together and even sad occasions are among my good memories because we pulled together well, thank God.
So, there God was, hugely important and working away silently, impressing me through the faith of the parish community, through family and later through the Legion of Mary. I was looking for Him everywhere, wanting to be good enough for Him but not knowing how.
So when it came to my Leaving Cert a vague notion flitted through my mind about religious life, but I decided to put it out again (quickly) until I was 20. Then I was 20, and I said to myself, “25 is time enough” and when I was 25, I put it off again – “30 isn’t too old!” I thought to myself.
And now here I am, living a contemplative life in a community of Nuns of the Order of Preachers, having made first profession on 31st May 2007, dare I say “home at last”?! It fits. And believe it or believe it not – I am not alone – it’s not so unusual to have a vocation to this life (I’d never have believed that until recently). Sr M.Teresa made her profession on the 29th June 2008. Maybe that’s what took me so long, all the time I was putting God on the “long finger” – no one of my friends was being drawn this way, so who could point me in the right direction?
The secret of the joy of this kind of intimacy with the Lord (though not the only one) is that however far from home I may be, however infrequently I see family and friends – still, my love and appreciation for them deepens – the peace – that I just know they’re in the safest of hands. The hardest part was letting them go, but once I made the decision to give them back to God, I discovered that He only took them in order to give them back to me in a new way. And I have to say, the community here is such a welcoming, loving one.
I can’t change the world to make it beautiful for God, but He has invited me to sit with Him – right next to His heart – and to see how beautiful it already is; to love it as He does and to give Him all my longing and desire for the world and all the precious people it holds. And that’s what I hope to spend my life doing, with His help. And while He’s at it, He may draw me more and more to Him in love, and everyone I carry in my heart.