A Day in The Life of a Religious Sister
What happens in the daily life of a religious Sister. Sr Ann-Marie Nichols of Cape Town tells of her day as a Schoenstatt Sister.
Many ask: What do you do? What do Sisters do? What does a day in the life of a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary look like?
Our community is a bit like a normal family; the day looks different for each one. However, like an average family, there are moments during the day that unite us.
My day begins with the ringing of my alarm clock (sound familiar?). Sometimes I’m sure it’s too early! Yet, at that sign I thank God for having kept me safe during the night and for giving me the opportunity to meet a new day.
Where I live, I have the opportunity, together with the other Sisters of our community, to gather in the Schoenstatt Shrine. Here we recite our common morning prayer.
Towards the end, we ring the shrine bell and pray the Angelus prayer. For many people living in the area, this has proved to be their “alarm clock”.
The second key moment of my day is Holy Mass.
Our founder, Fr Joseph Kentenich, said that we should “live from Holy Mass to Holy Mass”.
It is during this celebration that I can present to our Blessed Lord all the events of the previous day. I also entrust to him the coming day.
A particularly important time for me is meditation which I have directly after Holy Mass. I find a quiet space, generally the same one every day, and take half an hour to reflect on my own life.
In particular I focus on the blessings that God has given me. Sometimes these are challenges that I face; at other times I give thanks for people whose path I have been blessed to cross.
During this quiet time, I also try to recall words of Holy Scripture or thoughts of our founder that have touched me and give me strength.
Tasks for the day
Then comes breakfast which I have with my fellow Sisters! I am not only strengthened for the day by nourishing food but also by the warmth of my community.
The workday then begins. Each day is different! However, let me share with you what I have been doing today, as I’m writing.
Shopping was my first priority. I am involved in running Villa Maria in the central suburb of Gardens, a residence for university students, and we love to provide them with good wholesome food, especially fresh fruit.
So, this morning I went to the local outdoor fruit market and picked up boxes of apples, oranges, pears and delicious guavas.
After purchasing a few other small items that we needed from the local shopping centre, I got home just in time for lunch. During this meal, I had the opportunity to discuss current events with my community and, as usual, one or two jokes were thrown into the conversation.
The next part of my day includes filling in at the reception. Today, while waiting for calls, I am writing this article.
Later on, I will travel to a place close to the southernmost tip of Africa where I conduct a Schoenstatt Girls’ group.
To avoid traffic, I will leave early in the afternoon and stop off at our Schoenstatt Centre in Constantia. There I’ll take time to relax, go for a walk and also pray in the shrine.
Every day we have time for spiritual reading and also to visit the Blessed Sacrament. These are special moments of the day where we focus on connecting with God.
I like to read words from Fr Kentenich. His many inspiring talks have given me very practical ideas on how to live life to the full.
Eventually, I will leave for the Schoenstatt Girls’ group. Today the topic is Mary and how she listened to the voice of God.
I took this topic specifically because I realise that in our modern world, it is becoming more difficult to listen to the voice of God.
Frequently I find that young people spend most of their time engaging with social media, gaming or getting lost in the black hole of YouTube. Consequently, they find it very challenging to be still and to hear the voice of God.
We can learn from Mary who took time for God, how to learn to distinguish his voice from the voice of the world. She was able to live the life God had foreseen for her. Isn’t this what we wish for our young people of today?
By the time I get home, my Sisters will have eaten and be at evening prayer. This is the one day of the week when I pray evening-prayer alone.
On the positive side, I know that they include me spiritually in their prayer; however, I do miss the community prayer.
During the last working hour of the day, I will check my e-mails and attend to any wishes our residents may have.
I will then take time to plan the day ahead. I am looking forward especially to the afternoon tomorrow. Notably I will spend time with the Sisters discussing our spirituality, after which we will play a board game we all enjoy.
Regardless of whether or not I have answered all my e-mails or completed the tasks I wanted to do, I will try to go to bed at the appointed time.
The very last part of my day takes place during what we call “Great Silence”. Even while we are at work, we try to have times of stillness in order to connect with God.
The evening and night, however, belong totally to him. No cellphone, no TV, no music, no work, just God and me!
Even after praying my community night prayer, I will spend some moments praying a personal night prayer.
It is important for me to reflect on my day. In particular, I will ask myself if I achieved what I promised God I would do. Where have I failed?
More importantly, I will consider where God has shown himself to me today. Where did his presence touch my heart? And then I’ll ask myself how I can respond more generously to his call of love tomorrow!
Am I any different to other Catholics?
My day is not so different to what any Catholic does—as Christians who follow Christ, we try to live our day with him, according to his values and standards and thus to make it a little more like heaven, to open the day for Christ in what I think, say and do, so that his grace and his love may enter into the everyday world and the everyday life of people.
As a religious Sister, my day is filled with little “stations”, or stop signs, where I consciously try to connect back with God so that I live the routine of my daily life as a Christian—someone who follows and witnesses to Christ and the supernatural reality of existence.
Read more about the Schoenstatt Sisters at www.schoenstattsisters.org.za/