Member Experiences


“Answering the Call”

Sr. Loretta Mulry

My Call

I first heard my call to religious life when I was 12 years old and was selected by lottery from all the girls in my eighth grade class to participate in the Rockville Centre, NY Diocesan Mission Sunday, dressed as a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That event started my thinking about seriously considering entering religious life. Many of my IHM high school teachers confirmed my thoughts by their faithful but friendly daily lives.

My high school music teacher, Sr. Susan McMenamin, IHM, was most influential as my support; my mother gave me the strongest challenge to consider delaying my entrance into religious life until after college. I entered the convent immediately after high school.

My family was quite surprised when they found out I wanted to enter the convent. My parents were upset and tried in different ways to get me to wait until I was older. My mother wanted me to go to college; my father promised me a car and took the entire family on a vacation to Cape Cod the weekend before I was to enter. When my family came on visiting days, my mother cried and cried. She wept so much that I was told that if she continued to do that, I might have to go home. I guess she got her emotions under control, because I am still an IHM 55 years later!

About Me

I entered the Scranton branch of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary because I was deeply moved by the spirituality, devotion, teaching excellence and concern for us as students that the majority of my high school teachers had. They were fun to be around, yet lived with a singleness of purpose that I found most attractive. I had had another order up to 6th grade who were much more "cloistered". Though I was very fond of my music teacher in that community, I knew early on that IHM was my choice!

I think what was most surprising and challenging for me when I first entered my community was the amount of silence we were expected to keep. I entered with several of my high school friends and we only had recreation for 1 hour on Thursday and Sunday afternoons and for 1 hour each evening.

I now have a Bachelor's Degree in Comprehensive Science and a Master's Degree in Chemistry. I taught Physical Sciences and Chemistry at the Junior and Senior High School level for 16 years, and at the college level for 5 years. I have a Doctorate in Administration and Supervision of Adult Education, and I used this knowledge as the Chief Administrator (Dean) of Adult and Continuing Education at two different universities over a span of 17 years. In the last 10 years I have used the practical experiences in higher education in positions involving web technology, research, and marketing.

My hobbies are reading, swimming, photography, crocheting, floral and basket arranging, and computer word and card games. My interests are opera, ballet, professional ice-skating, professional tennis, some reality shows, horse-racing and good movies.

My Life in the IHM Community

My life in the IHM Community is life-giving for me because I daily sense that together we are so much more effective in spreading the Word of God than any one of us would be alone; it is life-giving because I never fail to be nearly overwhelmed by seeing the goodness and hearing of the accomplishments of my sisters when I am with them.

I understand my vow of poverty to require me to lean as lightly as possible on the earth, i.e. to use as little of the earth's goods as possible and still live a life committed to Jesus and His faithful. I understand my vow of chastity as strengthening me to give exclusive love to Jesus so that I might serve His people to the best of my ability. I understand my vow of obedience to follow Jesus in accordance with the Holy Rule of my Order and according to the legitimate authority of my Congregation, so that I might live every day moving in and with the Spirit of Jesus.

Prayer has enriched my life by providing a deep, substantive ground upon which to work toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth; by giving me periods of my life when I grew deeply in a love of Jesus as Someone who was personally in love with me, who cared deeply about me, to whom I could always turn for guidance and to be consoled; who was my first thought when there was reason to rejoice!

My ministry has enriched my life because it has brought me in contact with so many people in whom I see the goodness of God's creation. My ministry has enriched my life because it has provided a vehicle in which I could use the talents God gave me: leadership, organization, creativity, knowledge, planning and prophesies.

The gospel passage that touches me most, more a case of "keeping my fire of faith burning" rather than "setting my heart on fire" is Matthew 7:7-8. "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and who seeks finds, and who knocks, it will be opened." I find these passages to be the most important words in my life because they are a continual support in all sorts of situations. The trick is to remember to ask, seek and knock on the heart of Jesus.

The Biggest Changes in Religious Life

The biggest change that I see in religious life over the years I have lived it is the movement from a matriarchal society where we were treated as children, to an adult society where one can make decisions after discernment and discussion with legitimate authority; a change where one is in charge of, and responsible for one's daily activities as opposed to living out a pre-arranged horarium; a movement from uniformity and conformity to acceptance of diversity as a good.

At this late stage of my life I feel called to bring Christ's message to the world by assuming leadership roles in my local parish that address both world and local needs. I head up the annual Water for Life Campaign, particularly addressing the needs of Haiti after the Jan 2010 earthquake. I chair the annual parish drive for Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Project. I assume the responsibility for the leadership of the annual major fundraiser for the Parish Women's Council which provides scholarships to college for Catholic High School graduates . I teach during the Vacation Bible School when asked. I create various basket arrangements for raffles throughout the year, raising money for various causes; I open my convent home to my sister's friends to increase her access to social events; I try to project a loving and concerned relationship with my sister in providing for her special needs.

Advice for women who feel they may be called to religious life

My advice is: Take the risk! You are in for a fantastic voyage full of joy, love, surprise and reward, even though at times, like in all lives, there will be a few storms, clouds, disappointments and trials! But the sun will always come out again and blind you with a brilliance like the Risen Lord Himself!