.- In 1994, after years of drinking and carousing, 34-year-old former Marine truck driver Jo Ann Doane entered the Trappistine monastery.
Her complicated and roundabout journey that led her to answer a call to religious life is briefly recounted in the book "Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns" by Cheryl L. Reed and was published last Sunday in several US newspapers.
Doane had been baptized Catholic but her parents did not attend mass. As a teenager, she had an interest in Eastern religions and was touched by a book about monks. She said this teenage dream of being a monk on a snow-capped mountain in Tibet carried her through 18 years of living out in the world.
“Her desire for the divine, however, was outstripped by a weakness for partying,” wrote Reed. After high school, Jo Ann joined the Marines for six years and drove transport vehicles.
She drank and partied but preferred not to date since she did not want to marry. Feeling incapable of caring for herself, she did not want to have children and take on the responsibility of caring for others.
When her active duty ended, she continued her wild life, working odd jobs. But her partying took a backseat when she began a new job delivering newspapers. Her job forced her to go to bed at 6 p.m. and to rise around midnight. While on her paper route, she listened to a Christian radio program. She started reading spiritual books and remembered her earlier desire to become a monk.
After six months, Doane decided to begin faith education classes at a local Catholic church; she felt that she wanted to lead the life of a monk.
She confided her desire to a priest, who directed her to the Trappistine monastery in Crozet. Starting in 1990, Doane began her discernment for the monastic life but continued working. Every three months, she visited the monastery.
Doane finally entered. Her first months were not easy, for she struggled with loneliness. But she persevered and continues today in the monastic life.