Ours is a life of vowed Poverty, Chastity and obedience lived in simplicity and humility in a...
• Joyful community life,
• witnessed by a simple, traditional habit,
• deep prayer life together,
• and a community life of loving service,
• in the gentle spirit of St. Francis de Sales.
Women who feel they have been called by Christ to offer their lives to him in service to the Church are encouraged to pursue and nurture this desire so that it may mature and bear the fruit that God destines it to bear. Before entering the Congregation as a postulant, a person who aspires to the consecrated life will meet with a Sister to begin a mutual time of discernment. During this time, young women are introduced to the spirituality of the Oblate Sisters through the Spiritual Directory of Saint Francis de Sales and the lived experience of the Sisters.
Once a young woman makes a commitment to this faith journey, she joins our Novitiate and begins the time of formal formation, a process that lasts from eight to ten years during which the Sister is introduced to the spirituality of the Congregation, the prayer life, community living with its ups and downs, and learning to live fully apostolic life as an Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales. For more information, please call us at: 410-398-3699.
Sister John Elizabeth Callaghan
The thought of becoming a religious started when I was young, but was something I kept very much to myself. My mother and my father each had a sister in religious life giving me the opportunity to have contact with Sisters all of my life. In addition to my aunts, I attended schools and a summer camp run by the Felicians, Franciscans, Benedictines and Oblates.
More than anything these women seemed to have a happy, fulfilled life and they shared their joy generously with others. Over time, I felt an attraction to this type of life growing and deepening. During high school I volunteered as a counselor at a summer camp run by the Oblate Sisters. Through camp activities, casual discussions and working side by side with the Sisters, I gained a better understanding of this unique life style.
As I moved through my high school years, I considered several careers and areas of study in college. Still, the idea of being a religious was always present at least in the background. The thought that prompted me to keep this option open was that I firmly believed God calls each person to some special vocation. Discerning what that call might be and following it was key to ultimately finding happiness and fulfillment.
Eventually, the gentle whisper in my heart could not be denied and I believed that God was calling me to follow him as a consecrated religious. I loved the different communities I was in contact with, but felt in my heart that my call was to be an Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales.
Many years have passed since those days of asking God to let me know his plans and I am still amazed that he creates each one knowing what he desires for her. Then sometimes in imperceptible ways, guides the soul to what he has planned for all eternity just waiting to see if her heart will open to his love.
Sister Michele Elizabeth Socorso
Growing up I had the good fortune to go to both a Catholic elementary and Catholic high school. The first time I heard someone suggest the thought of being a Sister was in elementary school when our pastor visited the classroom and in passing asked how many were going to be priests and sisters. I raised my hand each time because it was something good but being young I really gave no further thought to it.
In my senior year of high school I seriously began to think of being a Sister. During Lent the Stations of the Cross were held in the parish church after school. One Friday, I attended the Stations. While waiting for them to begin my attention was drawn to a family sitting about 2 pews ahead. They seemed to be a happy family but suddenly deep in my heart I felt that the married state of life was beautiful, but I wanted to give my love and my life to God. At that moment I knew I really wanted to be a Sister. I remember it took a lot of courage to tell my parents. One evening I kind of hung around and my father said, "Something is on your mind. What is it?” And at that moment I told them they were supportive although later I found out that when I actually left, for 2 weeks my mother could not hold back her tears when she thought of me.
Looking back over my childhood years, I think when our pastor asked “Who was going to be a Sister?” it put the thought in my mind that it was something possible. My parents were faithful in practicing their religion, not only going to Church but having a crucifix in our bedrooms, saying the prayer before meals and using holy water. Unconsciously these little devotions reminded me that God’s presence and help were always near.
In grade school I was attracted to the Sisters who taught us. At the end of my high school days I went to visit one of them. I told her of my desire to be a Sister. She made arrangements for me to go to their Motherhouse in Pennsylvania along with another young girl who was also interested. On the prearranged day we boarded a bus that took us to Pennsylvania. Friends of the Sisters picked us up at the bus station and drove us to the Motherhouse. I remember being greeted by one of the Sisters and then ushered into a large parlor to wait for the Sister who would be interviewing us. I was the first one called into her office. I remember being asked several questions and then told to go wait in the parlor. The Sister was very business like and I remember feeling uncomfortable. After the girl with me had her interview we were immediately picked up by the family who brought us here and were taken to their house for dinner and we spent the night there. In the morning we were taken to the bus station for our return home. A few weeks later a letter came and my father read it telling me that I was accepted. I simply said I didn't want to go and that I would just get a job and work.
I got a job working in a bank for about a year and half. Meantime my mother belonged to the Oblate Mothers Guild. Days of Recollection were held for the Guild at the Oblate Sisters convent. My mother told me they could use some help serving the meal and washing dishes. I helped several different times. When I was there wiping tables and sweeping the floor, the kindness and friendliness of the sisters impressed me so much that I thought, “This is where I want to be”. I told my desire to one of the Sisters. She thought it would be good to speak with my parents when they came to pick me up and also to set a date. About three months later I entered the Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales and each day I thank God for my vocation and my religious family.
Sister Lawrence Therese Hudson
A Vocation Regained
When did my vocation begin ... in September 1950 when I first encountered Sisters in school. Throughout my grade school and high school years, I always felt comfortable being around Sisters and working with them. Our family moved several times and thus, I had the opportunity to be in contact with six Religious Communities: Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Joseph, Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, the Benedictines, Franciscans and the Missionary Helpers of the Sacred Heart. Their contentment and joy drew me to live this way of life, too. But, I think, it is my mother who first awakened in me the stirrings of a vocation without her realizing it.
My mother, who comes from a Canadian family of thirteen children, instilled in us the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic faith, as well as sacrifice and honesty that had been inculcated in her from her parents. My father, who converted to Catholicism before he married my mother, was an example for us of hard work, devotedness to our mother and us eight children. I was his little girl.
We grew up in a religious atmosphere with daily prayers and meal prayers, the family rosary, attendance at not only Sunday Mass but also frequently daily Mass, parish devotions, weekly confessions, and the Way of the Cross. All around our home we had reminders of our faith: crucifixes, holy water fonts, statues, rosaries, lives of the saints, the Bible, medals, scapulars, and holy cards. My brothers and I even made an altar and played out the Mass. In times of crisis my mother relied on prayer to sustain her. One such occasion stands out which shows how my yearnings for the Lord started.
Before my eighth grade year, our family was living in Pennsylvania. My father drove my mother and us children, six by this time, to St. John’s Church in Philadelphia where a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes was being held. My eyes were drawn to Our Lord, exposed in a beautiful monstrance, and I felt an interior longing and joy. The hymn to Our Lady of Lourdes opened my heart to her maternal care. To this day that uplifting experience is a source of strength for me in times of need.
Just to set the record straight, even though I may have shown spiritual leanings, I was called a tomboy and the ringleader of any trouble into which my brothers and I got.
In September 1957, on account of my father’s job, we moved to Delaware City, Delaware. We were enrolled in St. Paul’s School staffed by the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales. The pastor of the parish was Fr. Lawrence Ward, an Oblate Father. Several years later I was to learn that the Oblate Fathers had celebrated Masses in the two previous parishes in which I lived, St. Madeleine in Ridley Park and Our Lady of Peace in Milmont Park. So I had already been exposed to Salesian Spirituality unbeknownst to me. What a coincidence!
During my high school years, I was in the parish choir and became assistant sacristan.
What a privilege and joy for me to be able to take care of God’s house and to be near the tabernacle. I would frequent Mary’s altar and ask her to protect me from the temptations around me and help me to know her Son’s will for me. On one occasion an Oblate Sister visited our home. While showing Sister our outdoor shrine to our Lady, I was overcome by that feeling of contentment and joy that I mentioned above. I felt the presence of the Lord and wanted to give myself to Him forever. Thereafter, at each Holy Communion, the tugging of Our Lord’s love on my heart were getting stronger.
Finally the time came to discern in which Congregation Our Lord wanted me to serve Him. I had inklings towards a medical field. After seeing the movie, “The Nun’s Story," I felt called to be a Medical Missionary. That idea was short-lived because I realized that I might never see my parents or brothers or sister again. We were a close knit family. Even though I often helped the Oblate Sisters, I was not inclined to join them because I thought they were only teachers.
Another incident occurred which confirmed that the religious life was my calling. Returning home from my senior prom, an empty feeling overcame me. I knew that life had a deeper purpose and meaning than this.
In my senior year during a retreat for high school girls at the Oblate Sisters’ Convent, I happened to be in the kitchen where the dishes were being washed. I was so struck by the jovial rapport of the Oblate Sister with the girls working with her. I said to myself that is what I am seeking and decided this is where the Lord is calling me. I asked for an application. But that is not the end of the story.
I was to enter on the first Sunday of September in 1962. The night before entering I got cold feet. Overcome by the thought of leaving my family, I called the Sisters in Childs to tell them that I was not coming. Sr. Mary Vincent simply answered, “You will come another time.” Sr. Therese Elizabeth was my confidante at St. Paul’s School. Upon telling her of my change of mind, I burst into tears. I felt like I was in total darkness. I realized then that I had made the wrong choice but even this setback was used to my benefit.
For the time being I took a catechetical course through the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. This was providential as I would see in the future. I continued to visit my friend Elissa who entered the Oblate Sisters the week before I was to enter. It was during my second visit to see Sr. Elissa that I was to regain that feeling of contentment and joy. At the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament during the hymn Tantum Ergo that I heard an inner voice—"Stay! Do not go home." I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and love again. It was October 28, the Feast of Christ the King. I said—YES!
There is a humorous incident that is worth mentioning. After calling my parents and informing them of my decision to remain at the convent, I was given a guest room. All my belongings for entering the convent would have to be sent for. Dressed in ordinary clothes, I helped with the children in kindergarten for the two days. In the evening of the second day, I received my postulant’s dress. The following day the children arrived in costumes to celebrate Halloween. During the next day’s class one little boy said to me, “Miss Hudson, you can take off your costume now because Halloween is over!”
One of my brothers, David, with whom I am close, wrote me a letter encouraging me: “If it is your vocation, stick to it and become a good Sister.”
My soul rejoices in God my Savior because at the time of my First Profession, I had sensible feelings of truly belonging to Jesus. I heard and felt the heavy weight of chains lifting off me and clanging to the floor. The rest is history! God be praised!
I recently celebrated my 50th anniversary of Religious Profession. All witnessed the joy I experienced to have given myself to Our Lord for fifty years. A simple lighted terracotta
lamp was placed before the altar to symbolize that “My soul rejoices in God my Savior.”