Sister Mary Coleman
I remember when I first thought of religious life. It was in 6th grade when my friends and I wrote and received information about religious life. We all talked about it and then the material went into a drawer. I thought no more about it until I was at St. Mary’s Dominican High School. The thought again came and went while I was at Dominican College in New Orleans. Each time I would say to God, “Are you serious?!” I began dating a young man while I was in college, but after four years we mutually decided to break up. I had begun teaching children with mental retardation in the Orleans Public School system. I also went to graduate school at George Peabody in Nashville in the summers and continued teaching. I was also teaching catechism in my parish church. I thought I had my niche and was happy and fulfilled, or so I thought. After a while the thought of entering religious life came and went again and my response was the same, “REALLY?!” I began to be restless and I started to search, for what I did not know. I left the classroom and took a state consultant position dealing with children with mental retardation. Still the searching continued. I started going to vocation retreats and I made sure no one knew it. I began to visit various congregations in New Orleans, but I was still restless. Although I visited many, none seemed to be “home”. I was very restless, confused, scared and still searching.
When I visited the sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, I finally felt at home. I thought that maybe indeed God may be calling me to religious life. I told God that I would enter and stay one year and then get on with my life. When I told my mother on Christmas day that I would be entering the sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows in less than a month, she was in shock. The only thing she said was that my grandmother always said you would enter religious life. My grandmother was not even Catholic! My twin cried.
After twenty two years as a sister, I am still at “home” in this Congregation. Looking back, the charism, the “gift”, that Bl. Elisabetta Renzi, our foundress, has given to the Church and to our congregation “of witnessing in the world the enduring presence of the preferential love of the of Christ for the young, the poor the weak and the needy” drew me to this congregation. The spirituality of following Jesus Crucified, Our Lady of Sorrows, and a strong love of the Eucharist also spoke to me. Being a former teacher and religious educator, the emphasis on catechesis was also important to me. All seemed to “fit” my searching heart. The spiritual characteristics of joy, simplicity, cordiality, and gladness of spirit resonated in my heart. Prayer and community life were also very important. These still touch my heart and form the basis of my fulfillment and inner joy.
I have called you by name: you are mine.