During this Year of Consecrated Life, Franciscan Sister Patricia Touhey reflects on vocation and life as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.
Hans Christian Anderson said: “Every person’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.” He is known for his writings of children’s stories, such as, “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Princess and the Pea.” I agree with Hans Christian Anderson; especially the part about everyone’s life being a story written by God’s hand.
As I look back on 60 years as a Franciscan sister; I am very aware of God’s presence in my life from the very beginning. My parents were people who wanted us to live life to the fullest and follow the direction of our hearts. When I mentioned to my mother my desire to be a sister; she told me about her own desire at one time to be a sister. Then, because her parents died young and she being the second oldest of ten children knew her responsibilities were to help raise her one sister and eight brothers and she did just that.
When I talked to my dad about entering the convent after high school; his first response was: “Well, that shouldn’t hurt you any.” That was a typical response from a dad who was a hundred percent Irish and loved to tease. He was very proud of my decision and always gave me all the change in his pockets on visiting Sunday.
After 60 years of living as a Franciscan sister I am deeply grateful to my Community for providing me with all the support, encouragement, blessings, and education I needed to serve God’s people in various ways. Since my 50th jubilee I have had the opportunity to minister as a “Parish Visitor”. This meant that I visited parishioners who were homebound, in care facilities, or in hospitals. This visit usually included bringing the Eucharist because these people were no longer able to attend Mass. Sometimes, I conducted prayer services, wake services, or committal services if the pastor was not available.
Other duties included facilitating the Survivors of Suicide group and helping with the Bereavement Program in the parish. Visiting the sick and elderly was something special because these people were so appreciative of whatever I did. Sometimes it was just visiting or hearing their stories and sharing a cup of coffee. Other times it was praying, discussing God’s Word, and receiving Holy Communion. Pope Francis says the elderly need more time from Church members because they, many times, are lonely, isolated, and vulnerable. They are at a time in their life when just having a visit from someone from the Church is something they look forward to all day. Often I received more than I gave.