Friday, September 3, 2010

A Vocation Story

I grew up on the south side of Chicago and at that time it was a strictly segregated neighborhood. Most of my neighbors were not consciously or actively racist but they shared a prevailing fear that “other “ people might move across 59th street. Much worse, the pastor of our parish was known to have turned black people away when they came to worship in our church.

I went to school across the street from that church and, particularly as a sophomore in high school, I saw that there was a different way to look at diversity. The Dominican sister who taught English—and a lot more—to us teenagers opened new windows for us. She moderated the “Brotherhood” club; she introduced us to literature and to people who represented worlds we’d never experienced. She invited us to get involved in activities that followed from our beliefs, such as handing out open-housing leaflets on local street corners. I felt free—like I was a person that Jesus was talking to in the gospel. I wondered if the way this beloved sister lived—and the people she lived with-- had something to do with the way she thought and acted. A few years later I decided to find out. I entered the Dominican sisters’ community and discovered that I was right! I live my life among remarkable women who, every day, by their very presence remind me that I am the person Jesus is talking to and this has led me to keep trying to be a free-spirit—open to the liberating message of the gospel.
Sr. Joan O'Shea, OP
Westchester, IL

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