Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 18, 2009
And if they wore a habit, there would be more
The Superior of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood says people should see who a sister is
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Want more women’s religious vocations? Start wearing a religious habit.
That’s the view of Sister Shirley Blanchette, superior of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood.
“People who want to enter religious life want a habit,” Blanchette said in a recent interview.
She noted the religious congregations of the Edmonton Archdiocese started struggling with numbers soon after they gave up their habits and their traditional ministries such as teaching and nursing, where the vocations came from.
She thinks that was a mistake.
“A lot of people like myself, if I am a religious, I want to wear a habit,” she said. “I would never enter a community that didn’t have a habit because I feel that the world should know who I am.
“The fire departments, the police department, all have uniforms. Religious should have uniforms too. People should not be told who we are. They should see. The habit represents that we belong to God.”
But there are other reasons for the lack of vocations, the bulk of which for Blanchette’s congregation are coming from outside the country.
“I think there are so many things in the outside that (women) can do. You don’t need to be professed in a religious community to do good works in society. You can do that on your own.”
TOO MANY OPTIONS
Sister Toyleen Fook, vocations director for the Sisters of Providence, has a somewhat similar opinion.
“I think women have too many options (nowadays),” she said. “There are lots of options and (people are) too distracted to really discern.”
Added Fook: “I really believe that women are being called. It’s a matter of really discerning it and taking time to listen to what God is calling them to.”
Blanchette, the superior of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood for the past five years, believes the future could be good for congregations with a habit.
“Not so much for those that don’t wear a habit, because there are new institutions in Canada that are rising up with habits,” she noted. “I find that the young people now are joining new communities with a habit, which is good.”
Out of eight Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood in Edmonton, five have come from Philippines. One reason for that is some professed Filipino sisters are inviting new ones from their homeland. Another is that those local young women who come, quickly leave.
The congregation has what Blanchette terms a three-month come-and-see program. “They live here for the three months to see our way of life and we also see at the same time whether the candidate is good for us. Sometimes we find that they are not.”
“The problem with our generation is that they want a guarantee that this is what God wants them to do,” lamented the superior. “They want me to say ‘God is telling me this (vocation) is for you.’ I have no way of knowing that. That’s only God’s will. It’s God who gives that to the individual. I can’t do anything with that.”