Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Joan Harrington, CSJ (Sister Mary Howard)

Let’s go back to 1943 when I was nine-years old. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. I went to confession at St. Anthony’s Church in Syracuse. One Saturday I was the only one in church. I went to confession to the assistant pastor. As I was praying, Father came out of the confessional and came over to where I was kneeling. He was smiling as he bent down and whispered, “When you grow up you will be a sister.” These words made a lasting impression on me.

As a child I did want to be a sister, but as I reached my teens I changed completely and wanted no part of religious life. I really wanted to get married and have lots of children. In order to pursue my dreams I had to leave God out of the decision-making. I didn’t trust God to want what I wanted. From the time I was eighteen until I was twenty, I struggled within to find inner peace with my decision about life. There was no peace until I let the Holy Spirit become involved with my life. This was the fifties, and many girls whom I considered “normal” were entering religious life. After much prayer, I decided to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph and give it a try.
It was difficult to tell family and friends that I was entering because I was not excited about the prospect. It was something I knew I had to do. My biggest regret is that I did not explain to my younger brothers and sisters that I would be leaving them and why. Years later they told me what terrible pain I had given them.
It was a joy to be with many happy, young women when I entered. I knew they were making the same sacrifices. Good things happened. The spiritual life opened to us in new and exciting ways. It is the gift that religious life has given me.
To spend time always questioning if you are in the right place is a waste of time. Live the religious life the best you can and if it is not for you, God will let you know. I truly have great faith in this call by God and in my desire to respond faithfully. As with any life, there have been good times and bad times, but God is always there. I am grateful to my sisters and to my God!