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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sisters in Jesus the Lord

This is one of my favorite orders...they are new, they are local, and they need your prayers to support them! God bless these Sisters!

Apparently it's been too long since I visited this site, as there was a Star Tribune article about them and I have to admit it was fairly well done. It is articles like this that strike me and cause me to consider anew the attractiveness of a life of a Bride of Christ;

Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Young woman symbolizes new concept of nun
Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune

Kelly Whittier has the makings of a successful career woman. She's got degrees from two prestigious institutions, the College of William and Mary in Virginia and Emory University in Georgia. She's poised, articulate and well-traveled, and radiates the "sky-is-the-limit" look of a young woman with big plans.

When I met Whittier this week in St. Paul, she was dressed in the full habit of a Roman Catholic nun.

For many Minnesotans, the word "nun" conjures up a character in a farcical dinner theater production or, at best, an elderly relic of decades past. But Whittier, 29, represents a rising generation of young Catholic women who are picking up the centuries-old tradition, often in new ways.

A native of Virginia, she first considered joining a religious sisterhood in college. She cites a range of influences -- a strong Catholic student group, a choir that introduced her to the riches of sacred music. Last year, after several years of indecision, she moved to St. Paul to join Sisters in Jesus the Lord, a new order in the first stage of working toward Church approval.

How did her friends and family react? Whittier describes a favorite college professor's response: " 'I'm so disappointed,' he told me. 'I'm sorry your life is over. I had such high hopes for you.'

That professor, like many today, saw being a nun as the ultimate confinement, a way of life completely inconsistent with the modern world's greatest value: freedom.

Whittier disagrees: "For me, being a sister is about freedom -- the freedom to be totally available to a great number of people, to live wherever I need to minister, to work and pray exactly as I'm called to."

Ordinary people understand the importance of such freedom, says Whittier. She describes a young friend, also a sister, who was startled at the reaction she got when she first wore her habit in public. "When people saw her habit," Whittier says, "they didn't seem to care what her name was or where she came from. She was just 'Sister.' People asked her questions, shared about their lives, asked her help. They were comfortable coming up to her because, just by looking at her, they knew that she's given her whole life to God."

Whittier acknowledges that her vocation requires sacrifice. "But being a sister isn't saying you want to hide from the world, or you're not attracted to men. In fact, a sister or a priest should be someone who would also be a wonderful wife and mother, or husband and father, but who has chosen a different path."

As a Sister in Jesus the Lord, Whittier will spend coming years in a place even colder than Minnesota -- Vladivostok, in eastern Siberia, Russia. There she will join two American priests who have a mission at the city's Most Hooly Mother of God Catholic Church. Whittier will feed street children, care for abandoned elderly people and help build a music ministry. In the process, she says, she will assist in reviving a church that had about 12,000 registered members in the 1920s, but was shuttered in the 1930s after the Soviet government murdered or exiled thousands of parishioners.

Whittier is hopeful that Sisters in Jesus the Lord will flourish as more young women learn of its mission. Every week, she says, she helps review the names of about eight young women who have a potential interest in its work.

Roman Catholic nuns are generally thought to be a vanishing breed. But young women like Kelly Whittier, with their intelligence and energy, are bringing the vision flickering back to life.

Katherine Kersten •

What else is there to say?

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