The Other I

August 29, 2007

My interview to enter the convent

Filed under: Catholicism and other questions of religion,Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 4:04 pm

My application to enter the convent went hand in hand with my university applications, and psychologically they felt quite similar.  It didn’t occur to me that I might not be accepted to wherever I applied, and I simply concentrated on filling in the blanks on all the forms.  Maryknoll responded and arranged for an interview at their Motherhouse in Ossining, New York as soon as I had graduated in June.

For me, the trip to New York – my first visit to what had for years been a magical place in my imagination – had all the excitement of an astronaut’s first blast off to the moon.  I was tremendously excited, and it didn’t seem like anything of an irony that I bought an entirely new outfit which I conceivably would not wear more than once.  My mother and father took me around the city, to central park, the theatre, and restaurants, and night clubs.  I loved it.  And yet, two days later, without a twinge, I sat in the parlor at Maryknoll explaining to Sister Francis Assisi, the slightly nervous middle-aged nun who interviewed me, that I had a vocation.

We talked for about an hour, during which I said all the things that were expected of me.  She explained that if I took the vow of obedience I would be expected to do what I was told even if I disagreed.  I thought I understood because I thought what she meant really was “Maryknoll is a very modern, sensible order.  You might not understand everything you are told to do, but we won’t ask you to do stupid or meaningless things like planting a tree upsidedown or washing the same dishes three times to make sure they are clean.”  I said I understood.

Then she put her face in her hands and said “I think you should wait a year.”  “Oh, no,” I said without so much as a pause, “I know already I have a vocation.”  It was the “right” answer.  The first of many right answers I was to give over the subsequent years and that kept me in Maryknoll for longer than some others who were quite possibly more suited to a convent life than I.  It wasn’t that I was lying.  It was just that it never occurred to me to ask what I really thought or felt.  I knew what I was supposed to think and feel, and that was the answer I gave. 

I’ve thought more than once how different my life would have been had I been told to wait for that one year.  Many applicants were.  It may even have been the norm.  My mother would have died when I was a college freshman, and I would not have entered the convent at all.  Would that have been better?

No.  Knowing what I now know about my self and life, I think that the “right” answer I gave then was the right answer after all.


1 Comment »

  1. Dear friend It all started at the age of 3.Christ came to me as a child. me a child not him. I knew and what does a little girl know outher than there is more then what she is.I never enterd a convent becouse of being uneducated I am 58, young and would do it in a n.y. heart beat.


    Comment by kathleen f. hurley — September 28, 2007 @ 1:04 am | Reply

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