Grandma always said

The author, Sister Christina Neumann, OSF, as a child with her grandma and grandpa


It’s interesting that within the course of a single day yesterday, I received some related questions from multiple sources:

  • How did your family feel (and continue to feel) about your vocation ?  
  • What is your relationship like?  
  • When you decided to become a sister, did your family support you?  

These could provide fuel for a wealth of reflections, but for some reason, the one thing that comes to mind is from a comment my grandpa made when I finally opened up about pursuing religious life.  

It was an unusual week in July after my sophomore year in college. I had first been alerted to my vocation about a year before but did not want anyone to know other than my mom, in whom I had confided my secret.

Having been made vulnerable by an unexpected hospitalization, I was finally more open about what I believed God was calling me to: pursuing becoming a religious sister. Thus it was that I shared the news with my dad’s dad, Grandpa Neumann, in my hospital room. 

His response was: “Your grandma always said you’d be a sister.”

The crazy thing is that she knew, years before I did, what The Plan was. And…I had never given it much thought before the previous summer, nor did I have any clue that she had such an awareness. You might say it was one of the family’s best kept secrets.

The thing is I would never had guessed that my grandma would have said something like that. She was a devout Catholic but not one to be overly talkative about such things.

In the years since that time, I’ve wondered: How did she know?  What gave her that insight that even I lacked about myself?

I really haven’t come to any answer, but that’s OK.

Last evening, upon reflecting upon this further, the thought crossed my mind: So what did she do about it? Did it affect how she prayed for me?

It’s interesting to consider.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a page of tips, prayers and resources for families to promote vocations. Prayer is, in fact, one of the main things that is emphasized in fostering vocations.

Actually, our own Constitutions as Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen directs us that each Sister “persistently prays to the Lord to send laborers into His vineyard.” We are also reminded, in the same section, that “the life and work of each Sister…can influence young persons in the choice of their vocation.”

Maybe my grandma did that, prayed for me and helped guide me without so many words during the many interactions we had during my childhood…like sharing Sunday afternoons together while the men watched NFL football.

About Sister Christina M. Neumann, OSF

Sr. Christina serves at St. Anne's Guest Home, an assisted living-type facility in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There, she helps in a variety of roles, including receptionist, sacristan, activities, and occasional personal care aide. Along with these duties, she also manages the web page for the facility, writes their weekly blog, and edits their resident newsletter. Sr. Christina also authors "Our Franciscan Fiat" , the blog for her religious community of Dillingen Franciscan Sisters in North Dakota. She also finds time for embroidery, baking, biking and liturgical music. Before entering religious life, she received a bachelor of arts in written communication, with some coursework also in graphic arts and theology.