A Nun’s Life Ministry welcomes guest blogger Diane Brown, who recently was accepted as a candidate with the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan. Today, Diane talks about what it was like to formally apply for religious life and how it feels to begin candidacy. In yesterday’s post, Diane described her experience of discerning a call to religious life.

Applying for religious life, and becoming a candidate, by Diane Brown

After more visits to Monroe, I finally became a Catholic (although I had attended Mass with my father, I had never taken the necessary steps), and I made first contact with Father Kelly, a Jesuit who took on the job of my spiritual direction. Through Father Kelly, I began a more formal and conscious prayer practice and began, in a small way, reading about prayer.

Then, things got serious. I began traveling to Monroe every Sunday for Mass and to visit with the retired sisters. I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming bunch of women. And smart!!! And still very active in righting the wrongs in the world.

At first, it seemed like a mountain too tall to climb. To put my home, educational, and religious story onto paper, knowing that this story had to be 100% honest and knowing that it would be read by nuns, was overwhelming.

After I finished, things happened quickly — physical, dental and eye exams, psychological exams, and six interviews. I felt it was probably easier to become a CIA agent than to become a sister!

IHM Candidate Diane Brown receives a blessing from Sister Mary Bea Keeley, IHMFinally, the first big day — a Mass at which I would be formally recognized by the community as a candidate. I stood before the congregation prior to Mass, and all of the sisters reached out a hand to pray for me. It was overwhelming and joyful.

Then, right before the Mass ended, the priest asked to speak to me. I was afraid he expected me to stand up. There was no way I was going to rise.

Finally, after searching the congregation for my face, he began to speak. He said that people enter religious life thinking that they already know God’s plan for them. He said it was important to drop this pretense and just live in the moment.

What a charge — probably the most helpful direction I’ve ever received.

In my case, candidacy will be between one or two years. I hope to be able to write here regularly and to share this journey. I invite you to come along.