Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletNovember 24, 2017

Sisters' Stories

Sister Anne Tranelli, CSJ (Sister Anne Eugene)


In reflecting on my vocation story, I can summarize it by saying that since the very beginning, it has been for me a journey of faith. A deep and unquestionable faith in God was the mainstay of my traditional Italian-family upbringing. God was, in a very practical sense, a member of the family. He walked with us in our ups and downs and in our joys and sorrows.

After graduation from high school in Wilkes-Barre, PA, I hoped to attend Rider College in New Jersey. Thanks to excellent English teachers, I was interested in journalism. However, my father asked me to wait because the family was moving to Syracuse; financially speaking it would help if I did not begin college immediately. In Syracuse I began to work at Carmen Supply Company, retailers in hardware, electrical, plumbing and heating supplies. I loved the work so much that soon I transferred to the wholesale end of the business where I had managerial responsibilities. Needless to say, a religious vocation was the farthest thing from my mind. I was happy with life. My goal was marriage (for which I had a good prospect), a family and a convertible car!
 
One day a friend suggested we go to a farewell party for a young woman who was entering the Sisters of St. Joseph. Knowing how alive this person was, I thought, “What a waste.” At the party I was touched at her excitement, the support of her family and her conviction that this was “so right for her.” I subsequently attended her ceremony of reception into the novitiate. Then began for me a time of deep thought and wondering. I went to see my spiritual director and out of the blue told him I wanted to enter the convent. He laughed uproariously and told me to wait six months. Several weeks later I returned and told him I was convinced it was right. He suggested that I approach the Sisters of St. Joseph in my parish. I dutifully went and was deeply impressed at their genuineness, their warmth, their hospitality. I knew in my heart that a door to my future was open, that religious life was where God wanted me to be. My employers were not happy. They promised me a convertible if I stayed, and they even suggested I see a psychiatrist. However, their persuasions, the questions of my friends and the perplexity on the part of my extended family were to no avail. If anything, they reaffirmed my decision.
 
I received no opposition from my immediate family, even though I knew the sadness my parents felt because the role of a young woman in a traditional Italian family was that she eventually marry, have a family and be there for her parents in their old age. In years to come it was heartening to know that not only did they continue to support me but that they were happy for me. My father was referred to by his friends as “the father of the nun,” something in which he took great pride. It is one of God’s mysteries that the person whose good-bye party I attended so many years ago eventually left the convent and is now married.
 
As I reflect on my forty+ years of active ministry as a Sister of St. Joseph, many happy moments, many moments of trial and uncertainty, many years spent in education (all levels of grade and high school and high school administration) and now in my present ministry with the Spanish-speaking community of the Albany Diocese come to mind. The presence and faithfulness of God, such an important part of my family, has and continues to be for me what remains essential in my life lived in community. The spirit of hospitality I experienced so many years ago from the Sisters of St. Joseph is something I continue to strive for in my own living. My dream to go to Rider College, my plans to marry and have a family were never realized; however, what I have realized is a “mysterious thousand-fold.” Living in community will always have its ups and downs, but it is something to which I am deeply committed. I remember once being interviewed for an article in which I was asked “If you had to do it over, would you do it?” My answer was and is “Yes!”