This week’s cover story of the Catholic Standard by reporter Zoey Di Mauro and photographer Jaclyn
Lippelmann on pages 10-11 offers an in-depth look at a special day in the life
of four local religious congregations, as they held open houses on Sunday Feb.
8 as part of the Catholic Church’s Year of Consecrated Life.
As the article notes, Cardinal Wuerl in a recent blog said
that the women and men in consecrated life are in “the heart of the Church.”
I certainly have experienced the work of their hearts in my
own life. Several School Sisters of Notre Dame taught me at St. Joseph School
in Kimmswick, Mo., including my favorite teacher, Sister Kathleen, who read
“Charlotte’s Web” aloud to me and my fourth grade classmates and instilled a
love of reading and creative writing in me that has shaped my life and work. No
wonder “Charlotte’s Web” remains my favorite book, and Sister Kathleen remains
my favorite teacher, to this day. Sister Mary Annette encouraged us to go for
gold stars in our spelling tests, and to write clearly in cursive, and the
dictionary at my elbow and my signature today reflect the lessons she taught
At St. Pius X High School in Crystal City, Mo., my math
skills were sharpened by Sister Clothilde and Sister Mary Andrew, members of
the Adorers of the Most Precious Blood from Ruma, Ill., who allowed no monkey
business in class, and no slipshod math equations.
No religious orders taught me during my years studying
journalism and art at the University of Missouri, however, during those years
and as I set out to Washington for my internship and then my first job after
graduation, I relied on the prayers of my mother’s dear friends, the
Redemptoristine cloistered nuns in Liguori. I think many of the blessings I’ve
received in those years and the years since are the results of their steadfast
Well, what can I say about my encounters over the years with
religious in my work as a reporter and then editor for the Catholic Standard?
Those in consecrated life in Washington and Maryland continue to be my
teachers, showing me how to love and serve Jesus and his people with an open
I’ve been moved to see the grave markers of early Jesuit
missionaries from colonial times at Chapel Point and Newtowne in Southern
Maryland, who gave their lives planting the faith in our region. The rows of
simple crosses in the cemetery of the Visitation nuns behind Georgetown
Visitation Preparatory School likewise stand as a quiet memorial to those
sisters who taught the faith to generations of
young women in the nation’s capital.
That history is a living one, that I’ve witnessed in the
Daughters of Charity serving at Providence Hospital in Washington, as they have
since Abraham Lincoln signed their charter in 1864. For several years, I was
blessed to work near the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, and witness
their spirit of joy, love and faith as they cared for the elderly poor. I
witnessed a similar spirit of joy at professions of final vows for the
Missionaries of Charity, and at a profession last year of a brother at St.
Throughout our community, from the break of dawn until
nightfall, religious women and men begin and end their days in prayer, and in
between, they serve in an array of ministries, bringing Christ’s love to our
community. No wonder Pope Francis declared a Year for Consecrated Life that
extends 16 months. Their story unfolds every day in a tapestry of faith and
love that reveals God’s presence here and around our world.