Vocation Story by Sister Connie Bach, PHJC
Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
Ever since I was a young child I wanted to be a sister. My first-grade teacher, Sr. Michele Dermody who is now 87, reminds me often how I would tell her that one day I would be a sister. This dream came and went many times throughout the next ten or so years. My parents removed my sisters and me out of the Catholic school and parish we attended. Yet, I learned over and over that God always has a way of writing straight with crooked lines!
One weekend, I was babysitting for a dear friend who taught catechism classes at the same parish in which I grew up. She invited me to attend Mass with their family that Sunday morning. I chose to go and it changed the trajectory of my life. At that liturgy, I met two wonderful sisters who played guitars for the youth choir. I always loved singing and attending Mass as a child and felt I was “home” again. They came up to me after Mass and invited me to join the choir. I did so, much to my parents’ dismay.
I learned to play trumpet earlier in public school and later learned to play the guitar by then Sr. Claudia. I went on to play for Masses at Purdue University in West Lafayette where I attended school for education and while working as a teacher and principal for the next twenty years. I also became a composer and music therapist, using music daily for ministry and in my personal and communal prayer experiences.
Sr. Claudia invited me to our Motherhouse for a Come and See weekend. I was moved by the hospitality and fun-loving spirit of the sisters as well as their deep faith and preferential option for the poor. In spending time with them I discovered my love for service and had the opportunity to attend many mission trips. All the while I met people along the way who were wonderful mentors, spiritual directors, and companions on my discernment journey. God used people and experiences to plot my course toward religious life. I had only to listen and respond to the “still small voice,” as did our foundress, Saint Katharina Kasper, in answering the call.
After four years of living on my own and paying off school loans, I was finally propelled back once again on God’s course for me through initial formation. I’ve been richly blessed to have inspirational and instrumental women in my life guiding me throughout my journey of twenty-seven years of perpetual profession as a Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.
God continues to surprise me with crooked lines calling me into service as director of vocation ministry and our volunteer program. I’ve been to the border, blessed to work with refugees and to Kenya to set the groundwork for volunteers there. I only need to trust, listen attentively and respond courageously to where God calls me next!