SISTER STORY: Sister Belinda Monahan
I had never planned to enter a monastery, although I was probably the person who was most surprised when I found myself exploring the possibility. I was in my mid-thirties, had finished a doctorate in archaeology and was doing research as an archaeologist, and planned to continue to do so. I had also very gradually become very involved at the campus church where I had gotten my degree. I was organizing the liturgical bread baking, which meant also attending liturgy committee meetings. At some point I began to attend daily Mass; not by conscious decision, I simply started getting up from work every day about four o’clock and heading to church. Shortly after that, I began spiritual direction because I had a sense that if I was going to do this, I should probably think about why, and what it meant. At that very first meeting, my spiritual director asked me whether I’d ever thought about becoming a nun. I laughed and answered very honestly, “No,” and didn’t really think about it again, except to wonder whether she asked that question of all single women who talked to her. I also began to do morning and/or evening prayer on a regular basis; when the chaplain found out about this, he asked me to organize morning prayer daily at the church. At first, I resisted, rather snappishly, but very shortly thereafter found myself agreeing to do so.
When I did begin thinking about entering religious life—about a year after that original meeting with my spiritual director--it was not because I wanted to, the thought had simply appeared in my head and would not let go. To say I was resistant would be, to put it mildly, but as I began talking to people, none of them were as surprised as I was. I often felt rather at sea—I had known only three Religious women in my entire life and had no idea what they might do or how they lived; I was frequently angry—I had a plan, this was not it, but I also at times found myself impatient to explore the possibilities. Although I visited other communities, I had been very strongly steered toward Benedictine communities—for completely different reasons!—by the two people who mentored me throughout this process. I did not walk into the monastery and immediately know that this was where I wanted to be, but whenever the time arrived to take the next step, I found myself surprised that I was ready—and often impatient—to move forward.
Although entering the monastery was not part of my plan for my life, or perhaps because it was not part of my plan for my life, I am constantly amazed at the blessing it has been for me. I have found myself in a life which calls me to be far more than I ever thought I could be, and far more than I believe I would have been had I not followed the call to where I am.
"I am constantly amazed at the blessing it has been for me."
Sister Belinda's Final Vows Video