Vocation Stories

 

Sr. Jacquelin Servick, IHM

A Simple Question

Have you ever thought of becoming a nun? This question is a great starting point of opening the door to a religious vocation. Only my sister Gwen followed by adding, "Don't join a teaching order, but a contemplative one." Where would I find information on the contemplative life? So I asked our teaching IHM nun (Sister, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), Sister Avelina Ryan for help. The next day I was plied with three IHM books. One was three inches thick! The motherhouse or community center was about 3000 miles east of our little town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. But before I locked myself up in any convent I wanted to see some of the world with no-strings-attached.

The very next day Sister Avelina asked me if I would like a two week trip to Pennsylvania! By way of cookies and cake sales we made enough money to send Mrs. Bill Garvey and myself by bus from Coeur d'Alene to Scranton, PA. We spent four days and four nights on the bus! Mrs. Garvey's daughter Kathleen was being professed, and Joanne Bronzie (Sister Infanta) who had no family nearby, was receiving the habit. We stayed with the sisters in Nativity Convent, who treated us royally; we participated in several activities at Marywood and Nativity.

Next on the to-do list was an invitation by Sister Benigna Ball to visit New York City. We saw many attractions in and around New York City, including Jones Beach and Radio City Music Hall, where I was actually on a Kids program. This was followed by a quick tour of Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell, and several other historic sites.

Even after all this excitement I still did not feel called to this religious life. However, about half-way home in Mid-America I remember saying to myself, "Yes, I like these Sisters and their charity; their thoughtful love for their older sisters is inspiring. Thus began months of preparation to enter the convent.

Next... Part II Entrance Days

Plan A I was to fly to Scranton on September 8 Entrance Day. Then Plan B came along. My Mormon Aunt Ada and two Mormon cousins drove into Coeur d'Alene in early August from Independence, MO. Mom, having been raised a Mormon was fearful of telling her sister that I was becoming a nun. In those days Catholics and Protestants had great misunderstandings. So we pretended that I was going to college back East. I tried not to open my small black footlocker in their presence with all its black stockings, black shoes, black slips, etc. They later found out that I was really going to enter the convent and were very pleased about it. Mom and I were urged to go with them by car as far as Independence and from there they would put me on a train to Scranton. What a trip we had through Montana Glacier National Park, followed by the Montana desert to see their brother John who still lived on the homestead property, now a desert. Even the lake with all its memories was dried up.

When buying my ticket to Scranton the agent told me I would have to change trains and stations in Buffalo -- I heard the word "Buffalo" and squealed, Oh!, I'll see New York!" He glared at me (the hick from the west) and said," You don't go to New York, you go to Buffalo." Oh! In Buffalo I did have exactly five minutes to jump off the train and run one block to the next station. The conductor waited and pulled me onto the moving train.

So yes, I have thought about becoming a nun and have enjoyed 60 some years of being a "contemplative-in-action" teacher in this community that resonates in joyful loving service, hospitality and an option for the poor.

Sister Jacquelin (formerly Sister Joan of Arc) currently serves a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence, Scranton, PA.

Jackie Servick ESL
Pictured above: ESL student and Sister Jacquelin (formerly Sister Joan of Arc)