Story by Sister Rita Cameron, PBVM
My name is Sr. Rita Cameron, and I am on the initial membership team for the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. I came to Dubuque several years ago when I became a candidate with the Presentation Sisters. My husband died in 1986 and I have two children. I was born and raised in South Dakota and was influenced by both Protestant and Catholic religions since my parents were in a “mixed marriage.” My mother’s brother was a priest, and her sister was a member of the Aberdeen Presentation Sisters. I grew up with their presence in our family as they would come for visits and stay with us. It would not have been a positive contribution to family unity if I chose to become a sister, so I went to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. I met a young man when I was in college and married him shortly after college graduation.
When my husband died, I stayed in South Dakota and raised the children who were 6 and 13. When my daughter graduated from college and my son was a junior in high school, I moved to Mason City, Iowa. As a guidance counselor at Newman Catholic School, I met Sisters of the Presentation who also worked in the school system. I spent time getting to know the sisters and appreciated what they offered in their hospitality and joyful presence. After surgery one spring I needed someone to stay with me in the early days of recuperation. One of the sisters said: “I could do that.” She stayed with me and the time we spent in prayer and talking about her life as a sister made a big impression on me as I was in the process of searching for more meaning in my life. In the doctor’s waiting room one day I picked up a magazine. There was an article about a widow who had joined a religious congregation. I needed that to ignite the fire that had gone out in my life. I asked Sister if she thought it would ever be possible that her community would take me as a member. She would ask. The community said it would be possible and that we could begin a dialogue. I learned more about the Presentation Sisters, spent time in discernment and getting to know the community personally and gained new insights into what it meant to commit to a congregation.
Following the formation process in place for the Sisters of the Presentation, I began my religious life journey. Mother, grandmother, and sister are all calls from God, and I am thankful for prayerful community support in each of these calls. My journey is still in process, but I am so grateful to be walking with the Presentation Sisters as I remember where one of us is all of us are.