Tuesday, February 4, 2014

'Seeking a Steadfast Friend and a Bit of Adventure'

The following was written by Sister Mary Zita McLaughlin, D.C., who, after 78 years of vocation, passed away in January. This is her vocation story, and though "times have changed" since 1935 when Sister Mary Zita joined the Daughters, her reflections are relatable to any woman seeking her own vocation story today. 

It is winter and sleeping nature is building up her strength for the glorious spring awakening. It reflects my life at this time – slowing down, quietly peaceful, looking forward to the glorious Resurrection to come.

It has not always been thus. Long ago when I became conscious of an insistent voice saying "come," my rebellious adolescence went into high gear. I pulled out all the stops of my 18-year-old arsenal. "I’m too young, too immature; I need time to explore this wonderful world opening up before me. No religious order would want me at this time…" etc. etc. etc.

God must have laughed. He had heard it all before. "No," came the answer, "I need someone young and strong to care for my suffering ones now. You will mature, time will take care of your youth. You will experience beauty in the world around you – but my needy ones cannot wait." I tried to get His mother to share my point of view, but she must have had His sense of humor, for within two years I was wearing the blue habit and white cornette of a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul.

I must admit I grew up fast and the years had a way of taking care of my youth. Since then, for 60+ years He sent me up and down the eastern seaboard, ministering to His needy ones as a Daughter of Charity, with a master's degree in social work tucked into my apron strings. I cradled babies, counseled frightened teenagers, climbed tenement stairs and supervised foster homes. He even assigned me to Bolivia, South America for 21 years, dispensing medicines in country clinics, supervising street boys in our night shelters, working with mothers’ clubs, bringing food to prisoners in overcrowded cells, tramping the dusty roads, visiting the scattered families. And now that I am old, He has assigned me to smile at people coming to Sisters Hospital, directing them to where they need to go. My job now is to be kind to people, encouraging, listening, telling my Irish stories to my co-workers, helping where I can.

It has been a beautiful life – despite its ups and downs – and He has always been there, bearing most of the burden, showing His unconditional love every step of the way. He has a way of making you feel you did Him a great favor by agreeing to help His hurting ones. To anyone seeking a steadfast friend and a bit of adventure, nothing can beat being a Daughter of Charity. Believe one who has been there!

Sister Mary Zita McLaughlin with two children at
St. Vincent Hospital for Women and Children
in Philadelphia, circa 1940.

1 comment:

  1. What a teriffic Woman. What a teriffic Soul. May she rest in the bountiful peace of the hereafter!