mersed in the world. Patient learning from one another is essential tobridge the cultural gap between newmembers and those seasoned in religious life. Flexibility and openness,along with intentional community-building work, are essential ingredients of blending mature-age adultsinto community.
Also, do not give away yoursavings. To deeply discern your callduring the years of initial formation, you need the freedom to leaveor stay. This is serious. Communities are unlikely to accept a newmember who would not be able tobe self-supporting if that memberdiscerns before final vows—or thecommunity discerns—that she isnot called.
BROTHER RONNIE: One of the mostimportant realities for the 40-plus
Code #056 VocationNetwork.org Community Search
MY MOST beloved teachers were nuns who taught us tohelp the poor, pray for the sick,and send our milk money to El Salvador. It was there that I learnedof the necessity—and the possibilities—of self-sufficiency andcooperation. . . . In their polyesterpantsuits and orthopedic shoes,Sister Irene and Sister Betty—myfirst- and second-grade teachers—emanated a sense of joy andpurpose I found infectious. . . .
I was 5 when I began first
grade in the fall of 1981. Sister
Irene, with short, silver hair and
oversize glasses, sat before my
class in a little orange chair. With
a map of Central America pulled
down behind her, she passed
around a badly photocopied
picture of the sisters’ burned-
out van [American sisters killed
by Salvadoran death squads]. I
don’t remember her words, but I
EARLY LESSON: “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME” SPIRITCITINGS
remember the sensation: the gravity of the shock tempered by SisterIrene’s insistence on forgiveness.
We did not learn about “capitalism”or “revolution.” The nuns did nottraffic in propaganda . . . Sister Irenetaught us that vulnerability didn’tseparate humans, it connected us.
The nuns taught us generosity
and introspection as directly as
fractions and cursive. My educa-
tion, in other words, was never
only about me, but also about the
world I was poised to inherit.
From “Everything I Know About FeminismI Learned From Nuns” by Liesl Schwabe,New York Times, Feb. 16, 2019.
SISTER IRENE ECKERMAN, O.P. with second-grade students at Our Lady of the Elms School inAkron, Ohio in 1983.