There were two beautiful Dominican Sisters of Nashville who attended the SetFree conference. Both are Americans temporarily living in Australia as their order expands Down Under. (One, Sr. Mary Rachael, is originally from Pittsburgh PA, and appreciated the tiny Steelers hat that Grandma and Grandpa sent Joseph last week.)
After mingling with 200 youth at the conference this weekend, the sisters had a few speaking engagements in our parish. After morning Mass today they had morning tea with a small group of young women, most of whom are members of our girls group. Conversation centered on the topic of discernment, or how to practice hearing the voice of God. Sister Mary Rachael spoke about being attentive to God's will in everyday decisions and thus learning to recognize how God's voice 'sounds' in the heart of the individual. She shared her own habit of prayerfully placing a decision before the Lord and then quietly considering if God is saying "no" (and paying attention to the movements of her heart in response) and then considering if the Lord is saying "yes" (and again paying attention to the heart).
Sr. Mary Rachael touched also upon the importance of living a balanced life, of cultivating a grateful heart, of service and of personal maturity. She shared her own fascinating discernment story. Both she and Sr. Cecilia Joseph had such joy and peace. More than any words they spoke, this demeanor witnessed powerfully to the possibility of profound happiness in religious life. They credited their personal fulfillment to two elements of their vocation: a rich experience of community within their order and the contentment that any woman would possess if she had a Spouse who was both unfailingly loving and omnipotent.
the sisters take a photo with their admiring audience
the handmaids take a photo with the beloved sisters