Women encouraged to discern by living in the community



The Daughters of St. Paul are looking to help women discern a vocation. Through inviting them to stay for a week at their downtown Charleston convent, the sisters will introduce women to the religious life.

Sister Margaret Kerry, provincial of the Charleston convent, hopes to start the program in late spring. She ran similar programs in New Orleans and Cincinnati, and the motherhouse in Boston runs the weeklong sessions about five times a year, including holy week.

The Daughters of St. Paul is just one order of hundreds that specialize in various ministries. Women may be drawn to an order because they want to teach, to work in a hospital, or to spread the word of God through the media. They should find the order in which they feel most comfortable, said the sister.

During the week’s visit, women can relax, ask questions and get a taste of the community.

“That’s why we like to do it on a personal level,” Sister Kerry said. “Women should ask ‘do I feel at home here’ and ‘is this where God sent me.’

“It’s for us, but also for them to discern.”

The sister said they always encourage prospects to look into other religious orders. Some may find their home somewhere else, but others come back to the evangelization mission of the Daughters, seeking to share the word through various forms of communication.

During the weeks held in New Orleans, women would spend a week at the convent, eat and pray with the sisters, engage in conversations about religious life, and generally share in the sisters’ lives. Other activities, Sister Kerry planned included going to a TV station, since their mission is in media, and a homeless shelter where they distributed prayer cards and ate with the patrons.

Sister Kerry equated the week to a courtship. She said if you plan on getting married, you spend time with your future spouse to get to know them, as you should with your future religious order.

Sister Michelle Paschal until just recently worked with the college Catholic group in Charleston. The sister, who recently turned 30, left the Lowcountry, but not without leaving an impression. Sister Kerry said three area college women have expressed interest in religious life. “There are many young women discerning in Charleston,” said Sister Kerry, and the Daughters of St. Paul will do their best to help them in their vocational formation.