Sister Susan Oeffling, CSJ, speaks about when she felt the call:
“That interest in becoming a sister stemmed from my early childhood. But then, as I grew, even in grade school I remember having all of these fantasies about having a family and that really being my vocation. So that stayed with me for quite a number of years.
Even as I started high school, I think that was more what I was thinking about. I did all the normal things that high school kids do: I was involved in athletics, I was on the newspaper staff; I dated guys, I hung around with a group of guys and girls that did things together. So that was kind of part of my path. But I suppose it was by the time that I was about a junior that I began to think more seriously about my future, and it was also true that many people--most people actually--entered the community right after high school. So I think that’s what pushed me, by the time I was a junior, to begin to think more seriously about it.
I think the thing that was, in a sense, the deciding factor for me was the thing about...I suppose that search for the divine. The theology of my day was [that] if you really wanted to have a relationship with God, you became either a sister or a priest. If you couldn’t do that, then you got married. And if you couldn’t do that, then you remain single. There was this really hierarchical thinking about having relationship with God.
Which, thankfully, Vatican II dispensed with--in terms of talking about the universal call to holiness. And all of us are called to holiness. There are simply different ways of following that call. But in my day, because I wanted to really have that relationship with the divine--to be a sister was the way of doing it. And then, as I said, I had role models who were very involved women, who wanted to make a difference in the world, and who were also very happy women. So as I looked at them, I thought ‘Hm. This seems to be a lifestyle that I would really like to begin exploring.’ And so, I entered after my first year of college.”