Spiritual Formation heads to Convent
Dr. Phil Meckley and the Spiritual Formation class took a field trip to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, Kan. on April 12, 2016. The Nazareth Convent and Academy was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and currently 1/3 of the community is retired from active ministry.
The Sisters of St. Joseph worldwide were founded in officially in 1650 in France, but came to Concordia in 1884. The communities are spread throughout 52 countries all over the world, and the spirituality of them can be summed up with, “Find all things in God, and God in all things,” said tour guide Sister Janet Lander. The main vision of the founders and the core of what these women are about is to bring about unity in the world.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Sister Annie and Sister Davis during our lunch. Sister Annie grew up on a farm outside of Kearney, Nebraska, and had been a Nun for 63 years. Sister Davis grew up in Ellis County, Kansas. She studied music education in Oregon before joining the convent her junior year of college.
My classmate, Sara Eurit, asked the Sisters what made them want to become Nuns. They’re combined answer was, “I wanted to live a better life.”
We also asked if there had been many changes in the years since the two friends had been at the Motherhouse together, and Sister Annie was the first to answer yes in a despairing tone. She said there is now a lot more freedom to do what you want to do. Before the Vatican 2, the Mother General would tell Sisters what to do and what work to have, but since then, not only have duties changed but religious habits have been considered “out of style” for this specific ladies. There are many different types and orders but these particular ladies are St. Joseph.
Our biggest topic of dinner conversation was how the population of Nuns is diminishing, and how little women they have join anymore, especially in the younger generations. They said that it will continue to modernize with the times, but they often get discouraged that there’s not more of them around. With the freedom that came around in the 1960’s, Sister Annie said it has been harder to get everyone together for prayer groups especially. But Sister Davis said, “As long as we keep our prayer personally, then we will make it.”
The sense of community and togetherness these women had was genuinely inspiring. The tour was fascinating and the amount of information I had to soak in was overwhelming, but refreshing at the same time. Although the Nun life may not be for me, talking and getting to hear about their hard driven faith and willingness to give up what is considered a “normal” life to me, was wondrous.