Beginning the Great Adventure
“There’s no way I can have a religious vocation—I like boys too much!” I joked with some inquiring friends after graduating from the University of Dallas. Although I knew quite a few young men entering the priesthood, I had never had much exposure to women religious, and the idea of sisters seemed so far away, so beyond me in terms of holiness, that I certainly couldn’t fathom it for myself. Especially not since I had my heart set on marriage and children, following in the wonderful example of my own parents. Yet the Lord works in mysterious ways, never ceasing to give us surprises and graces far beyond what we could ever imagine for ourselves.
My call came in the form of a gentle invitation that developed quietly, yet persistently, over the course of several years. After completing some postgraduate work, I returned home and taught fifth and sixth grade for two years at a school in Cincinnati. During that time, my relationship with Christ began to come alive. Suddenly sensing the great responsibility of one whose mission it is to help impart truth to young people, there arose in me a desire to delve more deeply into my faith. As a result, I began to spend more time in prayer, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and for the first time I came to know Christ not as an abstract idea, but as a real person who was more and more becoming the center of my life. I was set on fire with the idea of serving the Church, with passing on her tremendous life and history to the next generation, and I figured, just to say I’d explored all my options, that I could cast a casual glance at religious life. After graduation one of my college roommates had entered St. Cecilia Convent, and the subsequent letters from her radiated such joy and contentment that I decided, under God’s guiding hand, to visit her on a retreat.
Upon arriving at St. Cecilia, the reality of vibrant, well-balanced religious life for women was made apparent to me. Not only were the sisters women of deep faith and impressive learning and wisdom, but they were fun…singing songs, cracking jokes, and spiking volleyballs with the best of them! Needless to say, I was impressed, so impressed that I went back for two more retreats over the next year, during which time the Holy Spirit worked to transform my heart. As the idea of a vocation kept returning to my mind, never was there an ultimatum that this is what I must do, but rather an intimation suggesting that, if I wanted to give more, it was something I could do. Yet I remained fearful of a life so different from what I had always anticipated for myself. With time, however, the Lord alleviated my fear by showing me that a religious vocation is not so much a giving up of everything as it is a love affair with Him who promises overwhelming fullness and joy.
Being at St. Cecilia now has brought with it a profound sense of peace and gratitude. Upon my entrance my Dad remarked, “Now begins the great adventure!” and indeed, I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store!
Sister Anne Catherine professed her perpetual vows on August 8, 2005.
Read A Mother's Story, by Anne Husted Bureigh, mother of Sister Anne Catherine.
Read A Father's Story, by William R. Burleigh, father of Sister Anne Catherine.