A spiritual mentorship

March was a busy and blessed month!

It was an honor and privilege to interview Sister Bernice. Before the interview, Sister Bernice showed me pictures and newspaper clippings from her time in New Mexico. She was beaming with pride, joy, and love for her communities and parishes. I am eager for others to have the opportunity to experience Sister Bernice’s interview to hear all about her time in New Mexico. Currently, the interview is in the process of being transcribed.

After finishing the interview, Sister Bernice has been generous and gracious with her time. I look forward to visiting her weekly. Since concluding the main part of the interview process, our time spent sharing has become more personal and spiritual. I am blessed to have Sister Bernice as a religious guide and to walk through faith with her.

On the Sunday morning after St. Patrick’s Day, a friend and I attended Mass at Marywood with Sister Bernice. The Mass at Marywood is unlike any I had previously been to. One word I would use to describe the Mass would be “inclusive.” The chapel was filled with many of the Dominican Sisters of Marywood and a generous number of community members. Everyone was warm and welcoming. The Dominican sisters take an active role in leading the Mass, which thrilled me more than words can express! Women and men went to the table of Christ together in unity. Sister Bernice was excited to have me attend a Mass where the choir was singing, as the choir only sings every other week.

The week following Mass was the last week of Lent. This year during Lent I sadly admit I felt less present in my faith than what I would have desired. There always seemed to be a million other things during my busy college week between classes, work, clubs, conferences, homework, etc. I am grateful that Sister Bernice seemed as though she knew exactly what I needed. We read a Bible verse and guided spiritual reading, which discussed. We would take moments to pause and discuss each section we wanted to develop further. This exchange was the dialog I had needed during Lent and prepared me to celebrate Easter.

Time with Sister Bernice continues to an absolute blessing! I am so grateful for her mentorship and friendship.

About Sarah Toppen

Sarah Toppen is a Junior at Aquinas College, where she is studying Political Science and Women's Studies. After taking "Women in American History" at the same time as "American History," she became passionate about including women's narratives in historical accounts and teachings. She has furthered her passion towards helping women through her advocacy internship with the Nothing But Nets Campaign, United Nations Foundation during Summer 2017. Sarah is excited to experience her faith in a new light. During the Spring of 2018 she was paired with Sister Bernice Garcia, OP; a Dominican Sister.