"...The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep."
Perhaps this quote from Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets, was the final nudge that led me down the road from Philadelphia, where I was born and raised, to the Bernardine Franciscan Motherhouse in Reading, Pennsylvania.
I suppose the initial thought of becoming a sister originated when my first grade teacher asked all 60 of us who was going to be a sister or a priest. Of course, we all raised our hands and sister wrote those numbers on the blackboard and said that she would check the accuracy of those numbers after we are grown just to see how many of us really kept that promise. Actually I did some research and found that six of us from my grade school graduating class entered the religious life but only two of us remained —myself and Kathy, my best friend. We were the class clowns and the two most unlikely candidates out of the bunch! Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor?
I am an only child but could hardly be considered spoiled because my parents taught me responsibility from my early days. They have been the greatest influence in my life. There is no doubt that they planted the seed of my vocation by their good example. I always remember them as "being there" for everyone. They never missed an opportunity to help anyone in need even though they, themselves, weren't blessed financially. They taught me also to give without counting the cost. They taught me to be kind and respectful and stressed that if "I couldn't say something nice about someone, I shouldn't say anything at all." Attending the Liturgy, parish functions and devotions were a priority. My mom instilled in me a devotion to Mary and my dad, who was a carpenter, made sure that St. Joseph was on the top of my list also. They truly strived to model the three of us after the Holy Family.
I led the life of a typical teenager, always ready for fun and adventure. My friends and I knew no danger, which my mom thought was to blame for her premature gray hair. I attended Little Flower Catholic High School in Philadelphia and was coeditor of the school newspaper and dabbled in acting and excelled in skating and bowling. I have fond memories of those teenage years and the good times shared with my friends. However, throughout my high school days, there was always something lurking in the background, hinting that there is more to life than what I was experiencing. In the meantime, I was determined to enter the field of publishing or to become a Navy Wave until I befriended the Bernardine Sisters in my sophomore year of high school. I spent quite a bit of time with them and was beginning to realize that, perhaps, this was the life that I have been searching for all along. However, I kept dismissing this idea by drowning it out with activities that normally occupy the life of a teenager. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give the Bernardines a try. My friends and relatives thought I was entering on a dare and actually took bets as to how long I would survive life behind the convent walls. Many years later, I suppose it is safe to say now that I won the bet!
My ministry has carried me off to many places and afforded me many unique experiences. In addition to STM in Allentown, some of my other ministries found me in Levittown, Lancaster County, Michigan, Minersville, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and even a short stay in Brazil. I taught grades 3 through 12, a summer college course, and I was principal in Philadelphia and Ephrata for a total of 20 years.
I entered with the intention of serving God and his people especially by teaching but in the process I, too, have been taught and I, too, have been served by the example of many wonderful faith-filled people like yourself who are reading my vocation story at this very moment. I suppose that is part of the hundredfold that they taught us about in the novitiate.
My story, for the moment, ends here with another one of my favorite Frost quotes "...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference." I truly believe this in regard to my vocation. Pray along with me so that other young men and women may also follow the "road less traveled by..."