Consecrated Life Day: Religious men, women answer questions from Catholic school students

By Chicago Catholic
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sister Marilyn Breen and Providence Sister Marilyn Koehler share a laugh during the archdiocese’s annual Consecrated Life Day at Our Lady Mother of the Church, 8747 W. Lawrence Ave., Feb. 8, 2020. Priests, brothers and sisters from religious communities serving in the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered for the annual event, which was sponsored by the Office for Religious. Precious Blood Father David Kelly, executive director of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, and Ryan Lents, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity, led peace circles with the 250 religious men and women. That was followed by a discussion and Mass with Cardinal Cupich. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

During the archdiocese’s annual Day for Consecrated Life on Feb. 8 at Our Lady Mother of the Church, 8747 W. Lawrence Ave., we asked several men and women religious to answer questions from students at two of this year’s Blue Ribbon schools — Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Lemont and St. Benedict Prep, 3900 N. Leavitt St. Here are the questions and answers:

Can you go to places besides staying at the church?

Anna Queroz, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Jess Lambert, Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago:

I’m so glad you asked! Many people associate priests and nuns with living at church, similar to thinking that teachers live at school.

At Mass, Jesus sends us out to bring this life and live into the world. Most priests and religious brothers and sisters spend most of their time outside of the church in order to bring Jesus to people wherever they are at.

However, some religious priests, brothers and sisters dedicate their whole lives to the work of praying for the world. These men and women in “cloistered” communities do stay at church, typically spending their whole lives on the same property.

Are there any things you can’t do that you wish you could do? Did you want to do this your whole life?

Aidan O’Hare, seventh grade, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Sister Therese, Daughters of St. Mary of Providence

Not really. I have so many wonderful opportunities and experiences.

Yes and no. I have wanted to be a religious sister since I was very young but there were times in my life I doubted God’s love and mercy. Since I entered religious life, I am doing things that I never would have thought were possible. I have traveled and met so many interesting people on my journey. With God, all things are possible.

Did you have to take a vow of poverty?

Jack Devoy,  Sts. Cyril and Methodius

How old were you when you decided on becoming part of your faith as a job? Why did you want to become a religious?

Lauren Tracy, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Patrick Hyland, Society of Jesus (Jesuits), seven years

Well, not technically. I chose to become a Jesuit and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience just like vowed religious. You should know that taking a vow of poverty does not mean that I am poor, but that I share what I have with others. I drive a car, but it belongs to the community, not me, for instance.

Jesus and the first disciples shared what they had with one another. As Christians, we are called to do the same.

I was a senior in college, but you should know that this is not a job, it is a vocation. You have one too, but you have to discover it.

Because I thought, and still do, that it was the best way for me to be happy.

How old were you when you decided to be a religious sister? Why did you decide to be a religious sister?

Sydney Spencer,  eighth grade, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Sister Darlene Johnson, Daughters of St. Mary of Providence

I was 40 when I decided to be a religious sister. God decided for me by a gentle calling while I was working with the sisters. At first, I argued with God, but eventually gave in and now I realize I couldn’t be happier.




Who inspired you to work with the church? Have you ever considered not working with the church?

Clare Ruddy, seventh grade, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Brother Matt De Angelis, Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago

I was inspired to join the Franciscans by a call from God. When I was 26 years old, I finally started asking God what his plan was for my life, instead of telling him my plans.

God’s plan for us is the best one possible. Doing God’s will is the best way to be at peace and happy, now and in heaven. The community of the Franciscans of the Renewal was also very inspiring, especially their service to the poor and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

I both considered not working in the church and actually did it. I worked for five years in two nuclear power plants as a nuclear engineer. Then I heard God’s call and I left it behind, even though I enjoyed it. Now I am much happier and satisfied.

How do you pray deep within you?

Krystan Guzy, third grade, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Emily Chandley, Daughters of St. Mary of Providence (entering novitiate in February)

Every day I go to the chapel to pray. In the morning when I first wake up, I offer God my whole day. I visit the chapel several times throughout the day and before I go to bed.

I offer simple prayers like, “Jesus, I give you my heart.” Keep your prayers simple. Be yourself in prayer.

Do you wear your outfit all of the time?

Claire Mangan, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Mary Magdalene, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Different communities have different traditions in regard to what is worn. Usually, a consecrated religious sister or brother who has made public vows gives public witness to this by wearing a visible sign of their consecration, whether it be a habit or some other sign. In my community, we wear the Dominican habit, which is white with a black veil.


What is it like being a religious sister? Do you have a lot of freedom?

Christopher Shannon, eighth grade, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Sister Marjorie Westendorf, School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King

Being a religious sister is a gift and a joy. We are all brothers and sisters in God’s family, and I love being called “sister.” I have the freedom I most treasure: to love and serve God and God’s loved ones, with God’s generous help and with my sisters in community.


Do only Catholics celebrate reconciliation?

Jane Milanowski, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Lovina Pammit, Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart

All religions have various ways of celebrating reconciliation. Roman Catholics in particular practice a unique way of going to confession to a priest to celebrate the sacrament.



Do you have to wear the clothes that you wear every day, or can you wear other clothes? 

Sierra Bleka, Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Sister Monica Cormier, Sisters of Christian Charity

During the day, when I go to Mass and then in my ministry, I wear a religious habit. White blouse, black skirt and veil. This is a sign that I am a religious sister.

When my work day is over, I change into other clothes. I can also wear other clothes than my habit when I go out canoeing, biking or other such events.


Where and how do you find the presence of God?

Sydney Periolat, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Christina Fuller, Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart

God is everywhere — within us, beside us, in nature, Scripture, people, the cosmos. God is love. I find God best in nature, in the song of the birds, the morning sun, in snow.

Wherever there is love, God is present. I find God in parties, music, presents. God is relationship — friend, creator, mother, father.

God is spirit, the spirit of life and love, in the Eucharist and sacraments.

How many times a day do you pray?

Peter Hortatsos, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Mary Florence Ehileme, Daughters of Divine Love

Personally, I pray every moment. Even if I’m not saying the rosary, I will do personal prayers within me. I say, “Jesus, make me humble of heart.” I do it often.

Communally, in the morning, we rise up to say our prayer by 6:45 as a community. After that we have Mass then we go for our various work. Then we all come back and begin again at 6 p.m. We say the Angelus. We say our rosary. We say our Divine Office. Then at 8 or 8:30 p.m. we say compline or night prayer. But personally, I pray every moment of my life. I don’t waste time.

Did you ever question God?

Oscar Moffitt, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Father Dennis Chriszt, Missionary of the Precious Blood

Yes. When my grandmother was dying, I borrowed a question that Jesus asked that he took from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

I’ve helped other people answer that question and walk with that question. We talk about moments in life where we are somewhere between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There are many people who are stuck, where the suffering is still very real and the Resurrection hasn’t happened yet and they want to know why. They just feel like God’s not there.

I try to help people understand that God is with them even when they feel like he’s not. It’s really a very important ministry we can do. 

What do you do daily?

Gianni Giunta, seventh grade, St. Benedict Prep

Sister Guadalupe Lopez, Oblates of Jesus the Priest

The life of the religious Oblates of Jesus the Priest  begins in the chapel at 6:30 in the morning. We then have the opportunity each day to receive the spiritual nourishment of the Eucharist for the whole day, which is what encourages us to realize our daily mission to continue serving Christ the Priest, his priests and the people who surround us.

We make present the love of Jesus to others, and to bring them to love him, to know him and the mercy and love of Christ the Priest. Our mission is to give our lives to Jesus  for the good of the church, for all the baptized — but in a specific way the priests and future priests.



  • vocations
  • consecrated life

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