by Sr. Karen Mohan, VHM
When my youngest sister, Colleen, e-mailed me this photo a few days ago, she didn’t know that she was sending it during a week designated as “National Catholic Sisters Week,” March 8-14. This picture shows me as a novice with my three sisters visiting at the St. Louis Visitation Monastery. I spent the first 24 years of my religious life in that beautiful community before moving to north Minneapolis to begin our urban monastery.
One glance at this picture makes it clear that times have changed! The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) with its theme of the “universal call to holiness” has encouraged all Catholics to realize that it is each Christian’s baptismal commitment that shapes her/his response to living the Gospel. For Religious Women and Men, that response comes by making public vows that express our desire to “live our baptismal commitment out loud” for Jesus Christ, in community, and with a particular “spirit” or “charism” guiding us.
In the Visitation Order, that charism comes through the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, the founders of our Order in 1610. As we strive to live our motto, “Live Jesus,” we hope to become more like Jesus and to embody the words of St. Francis de Sales, “I am as human as can be.” By embracing our humanity, I hear echoes of these words of the early Church father St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is a person fully alive.” I have been drawn to this quote for many years because it encourages me to become more like Jesus by “being who you are and being that well” (St. Francis de Sales). It takes a lifetime to attain such wholeness/holiness. I’m “in it” for the long haul!
Living the way of love expressed in the vows of poverty (simple living), celibacy (a prophetic, countercultural way of loving), and obedience (listening to the Spirit in community) has a goal: to become ever freer interiorly and so give witness to the freedom that will be ours when we see God face to face.
I’m including a second photo in this blog. This one is of our current novice, Sister Brenda Lisenby, at her Grandmother’s 90th birthday party last July! Sr. Brenda looks a little different than my novice “look” of 1965, and she is bringing a very different background and life experience to the Visitation than most of us who are “born and bred” Catholics. Brenda’s 20 years as a Baptist missionary in China led her into the Catholic Church and eventually to the Minneapolis Visitation. How grateful we are for her attentiveness to God’s Spirit leading her! Sr. Brenda will make her first profession of vows on May 12, 2018. She – and all of us Religious Women– give God the promise of our present and the trust of our future as we live our lives as Sisters.
I love my life of prayer, community, and service through the lens of the Visitation. May other women listening to the call of the Gospel in their lives respond generously, becoming more fully alive in the process! Our community welcomes you to consider joining us either in our monastic community or through one of our engagements: as a Vis Companion, as a VIP, or in our Monastic Immersion Program.