Detroit Stories Episode 27: 'National Catholic Sisters Week' (PODCAST)

Four women religious tell their stories about what brought them to the convent — and why sisterhood is still a vocation worth considering

(0:14) We meet Sr. Nancyann Turner, OP, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters for more than 60 years. She hints that over that time, her life has never been what she’d describe as “boring.”

(2:21) The listener learns about National Catholic Sisters Week. Begun in 2015 and celebrated March 8-14, the week honors women religious for their faith, dedication and service to the Church and humanity.

(3:05) We learn about Sr. Nancyann’s vocation, which began when Catholic nuns and sisters were much more common than they are today. Sr. Nancyann describes the evolution of religious life since her first profession at age 18 — including her own transformation.

(5:59) After recounting her many stops and ministries, Sr. Nancyann describes her passion project, the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program, which she founded 20 years ago. The program helps inner-city youths resist violence and become the best version of themselves through art, dance, music and education.

(8:20) Listeners are introduced to Sr. Felicity Marie Madigan, CSSF, a younger sister in her mid-40s. Sr. Felicity’s vocation started as a child, when she and her twin were surrounded by religious sisters growing up. Sr. Felicity describes a pivotal moment in her life — her father’s diagnosis with cancer — and how that impacted her decision to enter the convent.

(12:30) Sr. Felicity describes her ministry as a combination of prayer and work — just like St. Francis of Assisi, whose charism the Felicians emulate. She describes her work with the Deo Gratias Café, an outreach program at St. Jude Parish in Detroit, as a manifestation of her thankfulness to God for her vocation.

(15:46) Sr. Carla Reyna, a 35-year-old member of a new religious community, the Women of Jesus’ Merciful Passion, enters the story. Sr. Carla describes the fledgling community’s commitment to a ministry of prayer and hospitality through the Shrine of Jesus the Divine Mercy in Clinton Township.

(19:35) Sr. Carla describes how, as a young person entering religious life in the 21st century, her decision wasn’t accepted by everyone. As a college student, she had questions about life and faith, but a reckoning with “truth” changed her perspective.

(22:03) Sr. Carla’s decision caused her to lose friends, but she doesn’t regret it. She prays for them, and recounts the many blessings of religious life — including reactions from those she meets for the first time.

(24:11) We meet a fourth woman religious, Sr. Dominic Maria St. Michael, OP, a member of the Cloistered Dominican Sisters at the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Farmington Hills. Sr. Dominic and about two dozen other sisters spend their lives in prayer and community, interceding for the world.

(26:03) The narrator describes the cloistered nuns’ typical day, which, despite the stereotype of cloistered life, is anything but “peace and quiet.”

(27:44) Sr. Dominic discusses the importance of the prayer apostolate, expressing her hope that others will learn more about the nuns’ way of life and imitate their prayer — just as they are imitating Jesus’ prayer.

(30:43) The reporter asks Sr. Dominic for her response to the notion that “contemplative life must be so boring.” Sr. Dominic laughs. They don’t know what they’re talking about, she says.

Reporting by Casey McCorry; script by Michael Stechschulte; narration by Emily Mentock; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode is sponsored by Michigan Catholic Conference. Visit micatholic.org/signup to join the Catholic Advocacy Network. You’ll receive email updates and action steps to have your Catholic voice heard on bills in the Michigan House and Senate that impact human dignity and the common good.

Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.



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