We have a long history with nuns. As young girls we went to St. Francis of Assisi catholic school in our hometown of Braintree, Massachusetts. Our brother and sisters went to the same small school and everyone there was like our second family — for better or for worse. We each shared classroom's with Kaminskis and McCue's for over 13 years. And we were guided by the nuns who ruled the school both in and out of the classroom.
Some, like the benevolent Sister Agnesca, are fondly remembered around our family reunion tables as the gentle soul who taught us to sing along to tunes like "Eerie Canal" and "Comin' Round the Mountain." While others, like the school principal Sister John Marie, drudge up recollections of stern talks in the hallways and feelings of impending doom.
We knew these women in black and white but we never learned who they were beyond the habit. That's why it was a treat for us meet and get to know a bit about Sister Monica Clare. The former photo editor at ad agencies in Los Angeles spent years suppressing her desire to join a religious order.
She told us about her long and winding path to the sisterhood in our recent interview for The Passionistas Project Podcast. And Sister Monica Clare revealed how following her passion has saved her.
Here’s an excerpt from our interview. You can hear the whole episode here. And scroll down to see some photos of Sister Monica Clare's journey from childhood to the convent.
Passionistas: What's the most rewarding part about being a nun?
Sister Monica Clare: Certainly it's the joy of being used to do God's will on earth. I mean, I think just about everybody, unless they're a narcissist or a sociopath, they want to do something to make the world a better place. And the big challenge of that is that you can't make a lot of money at things that are altruistic. So people struggle, social workers and teachers and people who are really out there trying to change the world are also struggling with horrible economic problems.
And the great thing about joining a community is that that that worry is taken away for the most part. I mean we still have to worry about our future in terms of donations and things like that. But we don't have to worry about the day to day struggle of making a living. All my needs are taken care of. I'm going to have a place to live and healthcare until the day I die. The community buys my shoes, they buy my shampoo, they buy all these things so I can be free to experience the joy of serving God 100% of the time. I don't have to serve God in the little tiny spaces between work and other commitments and things like that. It's 100% I'm available to God and that is just, when I think about it, it just makes my heart explode with joy.
It's not an easy life. It's very difficult, but I try to tell people it's like being a soldier. If you're meant to be a soldier, you're going to go through boot camp because it's worth it. I could never go through boot camp because I wasn't meant to be a soldier. If you're meant to be a sister, all the the drawbacks and the problems and the obstacles are worth it. They fade into the distance.Like people who are meant to be in the advertising business. Same thing. If you're born to do it, the struggles and the negative part don't matter in the end because it's what you're born to do. I heard a wonderful thing on a television show. A drug counselor was talking about sobriety and he said, "It's harder, but it's better." And I thought, that's what I think about being a sister. It's not an easy life. It's harder, but it's better. And I think in the end it's going to be what has saved me for sure.
To learn more about Sister Monica's work and outreach visit CSJB.org and listen to the full episode with Sister Monica here.