Friday, September 23, 2016


By Sr. Judy Donohue

September 22 was the first day of fall. A change of the season reflects a change in heart.

Sr Helen and I at a Rocking for Residents fundraiser at
Vincentian Home
Fall reflects a change in the seasons, a time of harvest. The leaves begin turning beautiful colors of golds, oranges and reds, as they fall onto the ground at different speeds. The weather becomes a little chilly. Being in formation is a time of changing, a time of developing a deeper spirituality, a time of developing relationship skills in community.  It is a time for reaping from our efforts sown by daily prayer, spiritual reading and openness to learning a new way of life. I am letting go of old ways of being while learning new ways of relating. It is often lonely to be away from home, family and the familiar.  Being a Novice is learning to daily let go of control, routine and having my way.  My new life as an apostolic novice has been another time of adjustment by moving to Pittsburgh, PA.  I am now a Volunteer Chaplain and Activity Aide at Vincentian Nursing Home.  I have thoroughly enjoyed leading the Sing-a-long for the residents as well as helping with the Rocking for Residents, an Ice Cream Social, Bible Trivia and some Arts and Crafts activities. As Louise and Vincent did what was before them, I too look for ways to be helpful to the residents, staff and volunteers. Charity is seeking to build up the love that is in the world. Who doesn’t need a little more love in their life?  I have been given the opportunity to be charity for others.  When a resident needs to go to Mass, I wheel them there.  When they need to talk, I’m a listening ear. God puts you where you can bloom. God puts you where you are needed. Being in Pittsburgh, I have been blessed with many surprises.  The Sisters have a swimming pool and although I am not an avid swimmer, I have enjoyed the pool with the other sisters who go swimming. It has been a time of relaxation and contemplation. I do not have to always be busy. Yes, God wants me to relax. I’m in a new faith group, who shares meals together when they meet. Yum, Yum.  Two Sisters from India from the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul reside at St. Louise Convent.  We have enjoyed the Greek Festival, going swimming and eating together. My developing new friendships have proved fruitful and fulfilling. While I was missing the people back home, some friends from Kentucky sent me a care package to remind me I am loved. What a wonderful surprise.

A great lesson, I continue to learn, is living in the present moment. Being aware of how I can make the most of the now.  I can use this in relationships, time, prayer and affirmation, this has been enlightening. On the wall of where I worked is a poster that states “Be Here Now.” I let God have the past while not trying to control, manipulate or over plan the future.  As I’m more fully present to myself and what’s happening, I’m learning to be more present to those around me.  Why am I in this place and time? Who knows? It may not make sense nor may I understand yet I trust God. Wherever I am at, God uses me.  On September 11, 2016, I made a retreat day at a Pieta shrine and reflected on Mary holding Jesus. She had to have great faith in God to live the life of courage set before her.  I spent some time sweeping out all the dust and spider webs. Lord sweep out what’s dusty in me. Straighten out the webs that tangle me and keep me in bondage robbing me of joy.  I opened the door to let fresh air in to get the must out.  God create in me a new rush of clean freshness. May I breathe the fresh cleansing air of your Holy Spirit.  What joy it is to take time to focus on you, your redeeming love and resurrecting power.  As in childbirth there is no deep joy without pain. Some healing ministries come with a call to redeem our own injustices and the grief in our lives. Hope you gain comfort knowing others are struggling in a variety of ways. You are not alone. The struggles cause me to seek God for relief. Adjusting to all these changes keeps me on my knees, close to God.  In a world of confusion God gives crystal clear direction. In a world of many choices, we have one path to follow. That which is right in front of us. We are examples to the world, that a life trusting God can bring joy amidst sorrow, peace during chaos, hope rather than despair and relaxation when plagued by anxiety. For our God is an awesome God.  God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

With God, I am able to let go of the past memories of judgment, hurt, frustration, failure and regret. We are given each new day to have a clean slate in which to write something new on. God’s mercies are new every morning. As God forms me into the person I am becoming by the events of my life, I participate in this delightful exchange. I can use my experiences to help others. When an opportunity presents itself to help someone having difficulty living in a new environment, I can visit a resident at the home making them feel appreciated. I can bring joy to another person’s world by giving them time and attention. I’ve been through many changes in my life. God knows how to keep me close to God.  These sensitivities developing in me are finely tuning my ability to perceive. I am continually open to the Spirit. A change in season takes adjusting too. When new people come into my life, may I help them feel welcomed and appreciated.

God created me for some purpose that no one else can fulfill. I am unique. God knows what God is doing. Having the courage to pursue and continue discerning a religious vocation is a graced gift from God.  As the fall creeps upon us, be the change you want to see in Religious Life. 

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