A Vocation Story by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, Green Bay, WI
“I vow to God to live for the whole time of my life the Gospel counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.” With these words, I began a permanent commitment as a vowed member in religious life – a Franciscan Sister. What led me to make the decision to enter religious life?
As a child, we went to church as a family. My parents had a deep love for the church and a strong faith. My dad was an iron ore miner and my mom was a “stay-at-home” mom. I grew up in Ironwood, Michigan (in the Upper Peninsula), when times were simpler and peaceful. My sister, brother and I all attended the Catholic grade and high school that was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
I don’t remember thinking about being a Sister when I was in grade school, but in high school, I noticed how dedicated and happy the Sisters seemed to be. In my sophomore year, we had a school retreat that emphasized vocations. I clearly heard a voice telling me to “enter the convent”. Now, I’m not much for hearing voices, but this message would not go away. I remember going into our church which was a huge, quiet place. I would kneel by the statue of Mary and ask her to have her son leave me alone! I did not want to go to the convent! Hard as I tried to ignore the message, it continued to echo in my heart. I knew I always wanted to do something to help others. I had a strong pull to prayer but did I have a vocation to be a Sister?
God was very patient with me. It took me two years to make the decision to enter religious life. I entered the convent in Manitowoc after I graduated from high school. Two weeks after I entered, I got the news that my dad died unexpectedly at the age of 48. Days of confusion and sadness filled my heart. My mom was only 47—how could I help her? Was the Lord really calling me to religious life or wanting me to stay home? The answer came from my mom. I asked her if she wanted me to stay home and she told me I had to live my own life and do what I felt I had to do. I believe the Lord’s strength and her deep faith enabled her to tell me that.
Here I am, 50+ years later! The years have had many transitions. I was a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc for many years. I felt a change was needed and transferred to my present Community, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Both Communities have been wonderful influences in my life! When I professed my permanent commitment in 1978, I received 3 symbols: a rose symbolizing the pain and the beauty in life; a crucifix symbolizing that Jesus is the center of my life; and a ring that says I have chosen to live this commitment forever.
The Lord has never stopped calling me and I know the Lord continues to call others. Whenever I reflect on my life’s choice, I think of the words of Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the road less traveled. And that has made all the difference.”