A Sister’s faith: Listening

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Three Sisters reflect on keeping the faith. The first does so by listening to God in her calling and prayers.

Guest blog by Sister Helen Oates, C.S.J.

Keeping the faith is defined (according to my computer’s dictionary) as “not despairing regardless of what may happen.”

When I was much younger, I would sometimes picture myself having a face-to-face with the Holy Father, explaining what I felt he really didn’t understand about the church in America. And that is where my focus was: the church in America without a thought of the church in Africa, in India, in Japan or South America or any other part of the world. Eventually I realized that like the prophet Job, I didn’t have a clue.

As I have become more aware of both our current and formerly suppressed history, my heart aches for those who have suffered from the effects of abuse, exclusion, injustice, or indifference from or in the very institution that Christ himself gave us. I do believe God is in charge of this world, of my life, and yes, of the church. It is sad and overwhelming to realize that there is suffering—large and small—all around us, and yet there is also joy, sacrifice, and love. In reminding myself that I need to keep faith my prayer is that light does indeed triumph over darkness.  

I personally keep on “keeping on” because I have heard the words “follow me” and I believe in the One who gives the invitation. I see myself as a woman keeping faith by endeavoring to live in Christ’s love in whatever the circumstances of my life, placing my hope in Jesus who is and continues to be, our redeemer and sanctifier, no matter what goes on in our world or our church. I choose to try to continue saying “yes” to life unfolding each day, doing my little bit as I am able.

I am very blessed in that my life is made rich through the support of my religious community and my family. Another blessing, an unexpected one, is my morning church community. Yes, we do each have our “own” spot to sit (as is often typical of “regulars!”). It might be a put off to some but these folks don’t miss a beat when it comes to praying for our world, our local area, or personal concerns. Belief in the efficacy of prayer is almost palpable as we join with our God in the person of Christ and are nourished in spirit and body both by God’s gifts to us and by the faith of those gathered to pray.

Here is my dream: that in our time, a new St. Catherine of Siena will emerge to speak her piece to the church—and the church will listen! Then I remember that we are the church.


Guest blogger Sister Helen Oates is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province. This is the first in three posts from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

As a supplement of the January 2011 special issue on women, U.S. Catholic is asking guest bloggers, “How do you keep the faith as a woman in the church?” To submit your answer (about 500 words), e-mail onlineeditor@uscatholic.org.

Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.


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