Sr. Lisa Perkowski, IHM
All that I am attracted to in life has drawn me into becoming a vowed woman religious. My innate artistic sensitivities to beauty, holiness, suffering, and magnificence combined with my inquisitiveness about life has led me to understand myself as one who searches for God in all things and wants to bear God to all things.
Growing up in a loving, churchgoing family and in a good public school, I was able to develop my artistic and intellectual gifts; but during high school, I felt lacking in knowledge and development of my Catholic faith. Because of this, I was drawn to attend Marywood University to study art education. There, I found that missing piece in me complete in the IHM Sisters who served on campus. They had developed their artistic and intellectual gifts; but they were using these gifts in serving others, in working for justice, and in glorifying God. They were joyful, wholesome women who embodied both human and divine. Through my exchanges with these sisters, I learned more about who God is and how to pray to God more meaningfully. They became significant role models for me.
Despite taking in all I could in college, being active in campus ministry, attending service trips and retreats, dating, making art and music, and studying abroad, I still ached inside to know God more and ached over the injustice and violence in our world. I was quietly discerning about becoming a sister, thinking I had to know for sure whether or not I wanted to a be sister before approaching the vocation director. In my circumstance, the IHM vocation director had to do some initiating first. Over time, I learned that the vocation director and director of candidates and novices become the closest people to walk with a woman in discernment.
During my senior year student teaching, I decided to become an affiliate, yearning to enter the congregation right after college. However, these women of wisdom knew it would be important to work in the “real world” for at least a year, and that if God does call IHM to be my home, I will continue to feel that pull in my heart. After student teaching in the fall, I got a job near home teaching high school art. Those first six months teaching and away from my “Marywood home” were painful. I wanted to enter that coming fall; but, God wasn’t following the same calendar as me, and the Holy Spirit had another idea.
With the help of the IHM community, I discerned a different possibility: to continue teaching where I had begun and to experience living in a community of sisters near my work. So in August of 2005, I moved in with the IHM Sisters at St. Ann’s Convent in Harlem, NY, eager to finally participate in the life. That year I learned a lot from my sisters in community there and grew a lot myself. By the end of that year, I was ready to enter the IHM community as a candidate.
Much more has happened in the years that have prepared me to make my first profession in July, 2009, but my desire—and God’s desire—which calls me to carry on and live out this life remains the same: My deepest desire is to become completely in union with God, to grow into fully manifesting Christ’s light, love, and peace to God’s people and for the Earth. I want to be holy—whole—in touch with the sacredness in all my surroundings, in other people, in nature, and in the dark places that need transformation. With the help of my faith, I give myself to the cycle of suffering and dying, arising, growing, and giving to be one with God and God’s people. When I reflect on my life—all the experiences and people I’ve come to love in my discernment journey—I am assured of who I am and that God has led me home to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sr. Lisa is currently serving as a visual arts teacher at Academy of the Holy Name in Tampa, FL.