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Of boyfriends and religious vocations

Podcast Recorded: October 10, 2014
A boyfriend and girlfriend speak together seriously.

Can a girl's boyfriend help her discern a calling to religious life? Sister Mattie Sterner shares her experience!

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Show Notes

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Maxine
This is Ask Sister. We're here in Columbus, Ohio on a Motherhouse Road Trip with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. We're delighted to be joined by Sister Mattie Sterner.

Sister Mattie
Thank you.

Sister Maxine
And Sister June Fitzgerald.

Sister June
Thank you.

Sister Maxine
Sister Mattie, when you perceived God calling you maybe to religious life, what was that like for you? Was that some connection with joy you felt even in the calling?

Sister Maxine
What happened?

Sister Mattie
Distraction will do that to you. [laughter] And so then again, when I was a junior, I thought a little bit about it. But I thought no. And then as a lot of young people do, I fell in love. And I had this young man that I went with over a period of time. And then it started to come back to me, and this was late in my senior year -- and it started to come back to me. And I thought what am I going to do? So I thought, well, I better say something to him. So we talked about it. I prayed about it. And he talked about it. And he's the one that came up with a solution, which I thought was interesting. He said, Why don't you go and try it, get it out of your system. And I'll join the army and I'll be gone for two years, and you'll be gone for two years. And maybe this won't go anyplace. But if it's supposed to go someplace it will. So he went to boot camp and I went to boot camp. [laughter] It was boot camp too. It was not an easy time for me for a lot of reasons. But then I finally made it to first profession. Back in those days, you only had nine months of postulancy and then one year and one day of novitiate. So I made my first profession, and I went out on a mission, and I went to Zanesville, Ohio, which was actually very near my hometown. I was teaching the fourth grade and I seemed to be doing all right. I just never thought too much beyond what I had to do to learn to teach, because we went from doing nothing, you know, to teaching. And I got a telephone call one night from my mother saying that this young man was home from the army on furlough, and he wanted to come and see me. And this was unheard of in those days, believe me. I went to my superior. And I told her, I explained the circumstance. It was confusing. [laughter] It was very confusing. I was born in Somerset, Ohio, which is kind of the seat of Dominicanism in the state of Ohio. And I didn't know anything but Dominicans. So where else. Anyway, when we were kids in grade school, especially, and in high school to you know, we lived for the sisters to come back at the end of the summer to start a new school year. And we had all sisters, and then we had a couple of priests too who taught religion. But we had Dominican Sisters through 12 years of grade and high school. I very much was interested in becoming a Sister when I was in like seventh and eighth grade, I just thought it would be a great thing to do. And kind of when I was a freshman, but then I got over it.

Sister Maxine
Now did you say it's a boyfriend?

Sister Mattie
Yeah. I said it was my boyfriend before I came to the convent. And I went, and we talked a little bit about it. And she said, Well, I think he should come. So I said, my sister will come with him, so don't worry.

Sister Maxine
Well, she must have been pretty confident.

Sister Mattie
Well, it's interesting. We sat and it was like old times -- not quite like old times, but almost. And we talked and just laughed and had a good time and my sister told me this years later: on the way home, he said, "It worked. She's in the right place. And it's okay. Because I don't know about my life." And he went off to Korea the next week and was killed in Korea. I look back on that. I think the older I got, the more I realized what a gift he was to me. Because when the choice came, and it came gradually, it was like, I was choosing between two goods. And I think it was his support that really helped me get through. I see that as a great blessing in my life, that someone like that would be so supportive, and actually instrumental in helping me come to some kind of a decision. So anyway, I've been here for 60 some years now. It's been a good life. And I know it's the right thing, and I've known all along it's the right thing, and even when things got hard, and I would say to myself, did you make a mistake? And I'd say, but I'm happy. I mean, it couldn't have been a mistake.

Sister Rejane
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This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

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