Celebrations are ensuing across the country this summer as women profess vows as Catholic sisters. Among them is Sister Danielle Lussier, 34, a documentary filmmaker from Michigan who made her first vows with the Daughters of St. Paul on July 1. (She is pictured above, center, on her way to professing vows.)
“Marriage was attractive,” Sister Danielle said, recalling her journey to religious life. “But when I prayed about it, I discovered that my heart was already spoken for. It was a startling thing to become aware of in my own heart. It was like this drawstring that was pulled. From some of my earliest memories, even the times when I felt far from the Lord in my life and in some of my choices, I saw where the Lord was in my life and I could see how He had been drawing me to himself through beauty, through the truth, through learning someone’s story from the inside out, from seeing the beauty of humanity, that there is order and purpose for our lives. There was this clarity.”
About 100 American women make final vows as religious sisters each year, and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University is still tabulating this year’s count. It will share its study of the 2017 “Profession Class” in early 2018.
CARA’s study of the 2016 Profession Class found that, among women, the average age they first considered a religious vocation was 17. CARA reported that 68 percent of the women had attended a “Come and See” experience, while 49 percent attended a vocation retreat. When it came to early influences on their discernment, 58 percent had been encouraged to consider a vocation by a parish priest, 48 percent by a religious sister or brother, and 46 percent by a friend.