For those of you who don’t know, I have now officially started a new line of work! I quit my job in Campus Ministry at the University of Mary, thinking I might try my hand at something a little easier, a little less stressful, with a few less nights…I first considered a job at a honey farm, but then I would have to “bee-have” myself. Then I thought it would be fun to work in a bakery, but I would probably “knead” more experience.
Okay, enough with the awful jokes! I actually accepted the position of Vocation Director for my religious community (Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, ND). Having worked part-time in vocation ministry for the last few years, I was aware that it is a challenging line of work, not exactly easy or relaxing!
What does a Vocation Director do?? A simple answer would be that I recruit women to become Sisters in our community. This answer may bring to mind an army recruiter looking for tough men and women to survive boot camp, or a sports recruiter looking for the best athletes for a team. However, while I may have (just one time!) compared the novice year of formation to boot camp, vocation ministry is not quite the same as recruiting people for the army.
Deciding to join a religious community is nothing like getting a new job or joining a sports team. It is a decision that goes much deeper than that. A woman who takes on the title of Benedictine Sister is making a life time commitment – a promise before God that she will live with a certain group of women in a certain monastery, following the Rule of St. Benedict and dedicating herself to God and to her community for the rest of her life.
When a woman starts pursuing monastic life, she is looking to enter into and become part of a radically different lifestyle than what she is used to. A woman who enters a Benedictine community automatically becomes counter-cultural. Moving away from our individualistic American culture, she agrees to share – her car, her money, her possessions, and ultimately her life – with her community as they seek together. I found this counter-cultural quality sort of exciting when I joined. I yearned to do something different with my life, and joining a monastery fit the ticket!
Monastic life is not always easy, but in the end it is so worth it. I thank God every day that I was called to this community. I have had many jobs in my life, from cleaning public bathrooms (yuck!) to museum guide to my current job as Vocation Director, but I have had only one vocation in life – and that is my life as a Benedictine Sister.
I once sat in on an interview in which the candidate was asked if she was willing to relocate. She looked around and said: “Well, I guess I could switch chairs.” This life is about much more than simply changing chairs! It is about embracing a lifestyle that might seem different and strange on the outside, but that brings much fulfillment, both spiritual and personal, throughout one’s life.
So if you or anyone you know is yearning for a different kind of life, one aimed at seeking God with a community of prayerful, kind, funny, and just generally amazing women, please contact the Vocation Director, which would be me!
Sister Hannah Vanorny, Vocation Director