Sr. Nancy Gerth, SCN
It’s been twenty-five years since I said a formal “yes” to belong to a congregation of women religious and, in turn, they to me! Sometimes it seems like eons ago; sometimes a blink of an eye. If you ask my older and wiser sisters who have lived the life much longer and more faithfully than me, many would tell you that I am just a “young” sister beginning the journey and have much ahead of me in this life of mystery, joy, surrender, and goodness. Alternately, the comments of the high school senior I spoke with last week (“That’s longer than I’ve been alive!”) suggest a more seasoned vocation. From either time perspective, this twenty-five year milestone has been a distinctive year to look back and reflect.
In the past, busy and caught up in ministry and community life, I occasionally thought about my initial call as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. Now as Vocation Director, I frequently get a nudge inviting me to share that part of my life and more!
Sometimes getting nudged can be uncomfortable. Revisiting the past brings up memories of struggles, mistakes, loss, and just growing up. On the other hand, getting nudged has been an unforeseen gift for me. Getting nudged has been like having a 25th jubilee at random moments, because it bids one to look back, reflect, and glean meaning from it all. As I’ve told my story and answered questions about my life numerous times, there is one pattern I’ve noticed as I’ve reflected on these past 25 years as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth: There is much for which I have to be GRATEFUL.
I continue to be grateful for my family, friends, and for the vocation ministry I am privileged to be in at this time. I have experienced gratitude as a result of both the formal and informal education I have received: the love and wisdom shared with me from my older and younger sisters. I am grateful because of listening to homeless teenagers as they shared their desperation after eating from a fast food dumpster. I learned it by watching sisters care for each other during times of illness. I see it in the difficult events that don’t make sense, and we are asked to be faithful. I absorbed it as I watched a sister give up something for another and thought no one else was looking. I have come to recognize it through the dedication and competence of my colleagues. I peer into the chapel and am inspired by our holy women, quiet at prayer. I attend liturgy at our Motherhouse knowing that I enter a holy place, surrounded by women who give their lives in service, prayer, and community because of a call greater than themselves. And for that call, I too, continue to be grateful and say yes to a life ahead filled with mystery, joy, surrender, and goodness.
Sr. Nancy Gerth, SCN, is the Vocation Director for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and is celebrating her 25th anniversary of religious life. For more information about vocations to the religious life, contact the Vocation Office of the Archdiocese of Louisville at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502/636-0296, or the religious order. A listing of female and male religious orders serving the Archdiocese of Louisville can be found here and here.