Sister Paula

Sister PaulaWhen I was a small child I thought I would like to be a priest when I grew up—a Redemptorist priest, since there were some wonderful Redemptorist cousins in the family. In time I learned that was not an option for girls, little or big. I eventually set my sights on becoming a saint through marriage and motherhood—with at least twelve children. This goal drew me all through high school and early college. I had once vaguely wondered if the Redemptorists had a sister-Order, as so many men’s groups did: Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines. Since my cousins never mentioned any I assumed that they didn’t. In my sophomore year at college an article in the December Liguorian magazine really caught my attention: “Sisters in Red, White and Blue.” It was the account of the visit of an American Redemptorist to a new community of Redemptoristine Sisters in Toronto, Canada, recently arrived from England. Something lit up in my heart, especially when I read that their first superior, Mother Mary Paul, had died very suddenly and unexpectedly, early that year. As I put the Liguorian away in a safe place I thought: “Wouldn’t it be funny if you were a Redemptoristine someday?” Just a few months earlier, while accompanying my mother to a novena to Ste. Therese at the Carmelite convent in my hometown of Grand Rapids, I had made a similar remark as I looked up to the grille whence we heard the nuns singing: “Wouldn’t it be funny if I were a Carmelite someday?” Well! During Christmas vacation I began to think seriously about what my major would be for college. It was time to choose. Instead I chose to write to the Redemptoristines at the address given in the Liguorian magazine. And on Easter Saturday I entered. That was over 50 years ago–rich years, which have seen lots of changes in the Church and world. I am so very grateful to have lived them as a Redemptoristine, contributing in some small way to God’s work of plentiful Redemption.