After experiencing a deep conversion, a former lawyer who had a good job and “partied a lot” is now Mother Superior of a new religious order of “John Paul II sisters” in Australia.
With two other sisters, the 30-year-old Sister Bernadette founded the Missionaries of the Gospel (MGs) in June 2007 in hopes of helping men and women “encounter Christ and live the Gospel,” their website says.
Sister Bernadette spoke to the West Australian about her background, her mission and her relations with her fellow sisters.
“I think I am experiencing the same anxiety any new mother goes through. We have completely different personalities and different cultures, so our community life presents great struggles and great joys as well,” she told the paper.
“I was like many other young people. I had a good job, I drank and partied a lot, but at the end of the day I still felt an emptiness that no boyfriend and no number of Wild Turkeys could fill.
“I did a full 180. I really wanted to do law, I was dead set on being married, but once I started falling in love with the Lord I realized He was calling me to do something different.”
The sisters, who were founded in 2007 under the direction of Perth’s Archbishop Barry James Hickey, attend several classes a day as part of their formation. They do not have mobile phones, television or radios but have a computer and internet access to aid their training.
According to the West Australian, the sisters chose to wear a traditional habit and to take new names when they made their vows. Their vows of poverty require them to rely on donations of food, goods and money to meet their needs.
“God willing, in time, the community will consist of sisters (John Paul II Sisters), Brothers, Priests and lay men and women. The community is contemplative-active in nature and its members strive to follow Christ in the footsteps of John Paul II,” the order says on its website.
“John Paul II taught us that God can not be known as an object is known, because he is a person and as a person, he can only be known in a reciprocal relation of self-giving. In order for this meeting and process of self-giving to take place for each of person on a deep level, the community hopes to overcome the obstacles in all our hearts that prevent us from experiencing God,” the order’s introductory statement continued.
One aspect of this “way of being,” the MGs explain, is to present the Good News with words “that relate to the person’s lived experience.”
“The Holy Spirit is now slowly rising up a family of Consecrated and Lay men and women to strive to dedicate their lives to this special mission,” their statement concludes. “Perhaps he is calling you too?”
The MGs web site is at http://www.mg.org.au