Tracy Watson
Tracy Watson

“Trust in the s-l-o-w work of God.” Those are the first words that come to my heart as I reflect on my vocation journey.

I am a candidate in initial formation with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. “Initial formation” is a term given to the stage in religious life during which women more fully discern whether God is, in fact, calling them to such a commitment. “Mother” and “Grandmother” are also two of the ways I have responded to God’s call in my life. I am delighted to share with you some of the thoughts I know in my heart as God, my fellow Sisters of St. Joseph, and I journey together during this time of mutual discernment:

Be open to surprises.
This has been a fundamental need for me. After all, it is not typical to have had such a life’s journey as mine and now feel called by God to discern religious life. Once I got over the initial surprise that God might be calling me, I have been able, so far, to find balance in my “twin vocations” of mother and woman discerning a vowed religious life — thanks to God’s grace and the prayer, love and support of family, friends and sisters in community.

Trust in God and how God is calling and leading you.
This has been key for me: to be able to put one foot in front of the other on this unfolding vocation journey. When a person feels in her or his heart that it is God who calls and God who leads, taking steps by faith becomes much easier. For me, I know in my heart that I am called by God to live my life in some extraordinary way for the sake of the Gospel mission. Also, I feel called by the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to share all of myself in a way that brings love, mercy and reconciliation to our world right here, right now.

I feel called to live in and share community with other women committed to these same ideals. God’s call for me to explore vowed religious life in no way supplants my vocation as parent and grandparent. I pray for openness and wisdom as the community and I discern next steps in this formation journey.

Community is both challenging and profound.
Living with other people at any time and in any place comes with its challenges and its blessings. Living within a religious community is no different. However, while there are the normal sorts of growing pains, living within community has been a time full of grace, thanks be to God!

Similar to my experience of family, there is just something special about sharing in the day-to-day activities that compose life within a religious community. It is profound to be with one another as we pray together and share how we notice God moving and stirring in our lives.

I have been praying much lately with the notion that one gift religious communities have to share with our larger world is to model how to be community. In so many circles these days, we hear about how we seem to have lost the sense of community. What if the Holy Spirit is stirring more and more of us to be part of intentional communities? There is no better place than with vowed religious sisters and brothers to “show us the ropes.”
But apparent in all of this is one truth: Love is all we need, and it will, indeed, decide everything!