A Vocation Story by Sister Mary Kabat, OSF
Sisters of Saint Francis of the Holy Cross

A Generous Yes, Day by Day

Taking that first step into religious life was easier for me than others. Priests and Sisters were a part of our family life and our parish and school life. The desire to be a Sister began early along with a desire to be a teacher. But I had a problem. I hadn’t met any Sisters I wanted to be like. That all changed when I met the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Holy Cross when I was a fifth grade student. These warm and joyful Sisters who led simple lives of ministry and community life captured my heart. My heart said, “I want to be like them!”

Of course, one doesn’t join a religious community as a fifth grader, so family life and school life went on. I didn’t know the word “discernment” but that is what God was helping me do especially in my high school years in friendships, volunteering, parish involvement and meeting Sisters from other religious communities.

As my classmates searched for colleges, I, with my parents’ blessing, added applying for acceptance to the formation program of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Holy Cross. While also pursuing college studies to be an elementary teacher and ongoing discernment through prayer, studies and daily life, two years later I was received as “Sister” Mary. I wanted to become more and more like the Sisters I was coming to know who as Franciscans lived simply, prayed deeply and touched lives with loving compassion. I feel the same way 43 years later.

This can make religious life sound romantic rather than real. I can tell you that religious life is very real with all the challenges, joys, and sorrows every life choice brings. It is lived with real people in real ministries with more real people and I’m a real person too! That is why for me the word “discernment” needed the words “loving perseverance” as well. Religious life as any vocation needs to be lived with a generous “yes” day by day, year by year, with God’s help all along the way. Being “Sister” to my Community Sisters, those I share ministry with, all the brothers and sisters I meet along life’s way is an invitation to a full and holy life.

God desires that we each find that path that will allow us to grow to be the persons we were created to be in God’s mind and heart. For me, religious life is that choice and that journey.