“Are you allowed to look at yourself in the mirror?” I stood stunned for a second or two by the question before I could open my mouth and answer. I was 22 years old and in my first year with the Missionaries of God’s Love Sisters. This particular day, I was facing a room full of year ten girls with whom, along with a couple of other sisters, I had been discussing what it meant to be a sister. The short answer to the question was and is, of course, “Yes!”
- Katherine Stone, SMH
That’s the only time I’ve ever been asked that particular question, but if I had a dollar for every time a student has asked me if being a sister means I can’t have a boyfriend, I’d be well on my way to breaking my vow of poverty. People seem to get stuck on the whole technology thing too, so before you ask – yes, I use computers (not the most up-to-date, though), and the internet (I even have facebook!), but no, I don’t have a mobile phone, or an iPod or an iPad! These and many other questions, however, are a fairly regular reminder of how “different” my choice of life is from the average person’s experience...
I have been blessed to have grown up in a strong Christian family. Faith came easily for me. So maybe it’s no surprise that I also knew from quite a young age that I was going to be a sister one day. It wasn’t a welcome knowledge, however, as I had other ambitions – I wanted to be a wife and mother, and maybe a hairdresser or a writer or... the career changed as I grew!
The summer between school and Uni was a life-changing one for me. I worked and played for most of it, but also spent a week at a “Summer School” for young Catholics. There, alongside some two hundred other young adults, I was encouraged to open my life up more fully to God. I remember praying at the beginning of the week, asking God for some kind of direction in life: should I study what I’d enrolled in, change degrees, or take a gap year to be certain I was doing the right thing? The end of the week rolled around, and it seemed like I’d got no answer. Then, on the second last day, a surprising series of events saw me sitting uneasily at the back of a seminar about the Missionaries of God’s Love.
As I sat and listened to Fr Ken Barker, the founder of MGL, speak about the vision for a life of prayer, lived together with others who shared the vision, and sharing the Good News of God’s love with particularly the young and those on the margins of society, something began to stir within me. I remember thinking, “Hey, I like this! If I was ever going to follow that sister thing, I’d be looking for all of these things in the group I joined.” He sat down, and the leader of the Sisters got up to speak. I have no memory of what she said, just that as she spoke, I felt like God was saying, "This is what I want for you, this is where you will find fullness of life," and for the first time, everything in me responded with a joyous, "Yes!"
I didn't join straight away, but went off to study at Uni first, to give myself some space to discern more carefully. That was my parents’ suggestion. They were otherwise quite happy with my decision, and have been incredibly supportive over the last eight and a half years since I joined.
FULL STORY I was 22 when I decided to be a nun