Member Experiences

 

My life as an IHM has been so rich and fulfilling...

Sr. Gloria Frank

My story begins in Baltimore, Maryland where I grew up and attended grade school at St. Bernardine's and was taught by the IHMs. In eighth grade I thought about being a sister but after graduation I kind of put that on the back burner as I attended Seton High School.

While in high school I taught Forensics after school and also had Science Fairs. I found myself setting up and equipping science labs in several schools and eventually I was asked to go to our mission in Puerto Rico to the new high school and set up the Science Department there. From there I went to Long Island to again begin new science programs and also to focus on setting up the new Physical Science Lab.

My years in high school were also filled with participation in many extracurricular activities. I was in the Drama Club, President of the Science Club which resulted in my being in the Leaders Club. The Leaders Club was made up of all the Presidents of all the clubs, prom committees, basketball cheerleaders, and the Louise De Marillac Club (which involved accompanying a Daughter of Charity to visit the poor in the inner city and bringing food and clothing). I also volunteered one day a week at St. Vincent's Orphanage feeding the babies there who were up for adoption.

I feel it was the the Luide De Marillac Club and St.Vincent's Orphanage that really had an effect on my life and created in my heart a desire to help others. It was then that the thought of becoming a sister came back. But, in the midst of dating, proms, acting, I again tried to forget about it. By the end of my Junior Year we had a retreat and the priest spoke about religious life and suggested we talk to a parish priest if we felt called to this.

So, I went to the priest in my parish and talked to him in Confession. He was very helpful, suggesting books to read and helping me in my prayer and discerning. He suggested also that I talk to one of the Sisters.

I went back to St. Bernardine's and talked to S. Bonaventure who gave me a booklet called "Whom See Ye". It was seeing the photos of the work the sisters were doing with educating the black children in the south that moved me to want to dedicate myself to this life. I liked the idea of teaching and especially the idea of teaching about Jesus to children. When I was in the middle of my senior year I wrote to the IHMs major superior and asked for an application.

I chose the IHMs over the Daughters of Charity who taught me in high school because I felt their work was predominantly in hospitals and the IHMs were more into education. So, in September of 1950 I came to Marywood to become an IHM. It was the Holy Year and I felt that this was a significant sign for me confirming my decision.

As the Holy Father knocked on the door at St. Peter's to open the Holy Year I felt the Lord was knocking on the door of my heart. This was not an easy decision. I had been dating a very special person and we had talked a lot about marriage after college. Having been a bridesmaid several times for my close friends I knew I was giving up raising a family. I understood what the Lord was asking of me in my "yes", but I also felt close to the Blessed Virgin and knew she would be with me in the days ahead. Belonging to a community dedicated to Mary was also a factor in my choice of IHMs.

My life as an IHM has been so rich and fulfilling I have never questioned my decision. Oddly, I never got to go to teach the black children in the south during those early days. Most of the first 25 years were spent teaching science, especially Physics, Chemistry, and Physical Science on the high school level.

As an IHM, I spent a year in prayer at Mariandale in Ossining, New York under the direction of a Jesuit priest who was my spiritual director. At the end of this special year I was asked to be Vice-President for Student Affairs at Marywood University. There I felt the need to start a Campus Ministry Program to develop the spiritual life of the students. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed being a part of the students' lives on campus.

But God seemed to let me know that this was not permanent and that there were more things he was inviting me to do. This led to starting the Affiliate Program for women considering religious life. I felt my own process of discernment many years ago enabled me to help them in their process. I also began to see the emerging of a lay-centered Church and at a Chapter I proposed we have an Associate program where lay men and women could be involved in our ministries and in our prayer life.

After six years, I heard that sister Marian Denise was looking for someone to open a Group Home for pregnant teenagers. Having strong pro-life feelings, I felt I should be more active and that his was one way to do that so I met with Sister and we planned the opening of Walsh Manor, a home for pregnant teens. This ministry was very close to my heart. To be present for the birthing and see new life come into the world was probably the most powerful part of the ministry there. During those nine years there were over a hundred who lived there some placed the babies for adoption and others kept the babies. Although I am no longer there, the home still exists for these young women who opt against abortion.

Leaving there, after a short time doing Youth Ministry I was asked to consider working on the Indian Reservation in Mississippi. Again God was offering me a challenge and I realized that all these opportunities would never had been possible had I chosen marriage for I would not have been free had I had the responsibility of a family.

Ministering to the Choctaw people was a very special time for me. I loved being with them and helping them to find God in their lives through my ministry of giving retreats, Counseling, (yes, I decided I needed a Masters in Counseling to better help the unwed Mothers), adult formation, pre-Cana, and instructing adults coming into the Church. Those ten years were truly a special blessing in my life and I will always hold these wonderful Native Americans in my heart. Now I am currently ministering at our Retreat Center in Cresco doing Retreats, Spiritual Direction, Counseling, and Grief Workshops for those who have lost loved one.

Why have I shared this? Because I feel my choice to become an IHM has led to a very happy, exciting, eventful, fulfilling life and one in which I have had so many opportunities to grow closer in my relationship to my God. I have known the depths of this Divine Love in so many ways but most especially through bringing him to all those whose lives I have touched over the years.