Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletNovember 24, 2017

Sisters' Stories

Sister Dolores Stevens, CSJ (Sister Margaret Philomena)


Having responded to the words “Come and See,” I want to tell you of my “Good News.” As a child I became attracted to God through the influence of my home. My mother shared her faith and trust in God. We had pictures of Jesus and Mary in our home; there were crucifixes on our walls. Mom prayed with us each evening. Holy water and blessed palms assured us of God’s protection from evil. Bible stories were read to us, and I marveled at the works of God’s creation. Unfortunately, this God was also a punitive and judgmental God.

 As a sixth grader, I was encouraged to pray for guidance, so I would have a jump start in deciding what I wanted to do with my life after high school. Each evening I prayed faithfully: “Dear God, help me to know what you want me to do with my life. I’ll do anything you want, but I don’t want to be a nun. Amen.” Yes, even then I sensed a call to religious life. I resisted it.
 
High school was typical: work: dances, school, dating, questioning. That innate desire for God and ministry haunted me. Something was missing from life. I wanted more. One day as I was leaving school, my senior teacher approached me and asked if I had ever considered becoming a sister. I burst out crying and said “yes.” Sister gave me some literature and asked that I talk with a priest. Since I had an aunt who was a sister, I also talked with her. I felt a “high,” but I was fearful. I told Father I wanted to save my soul and help other people. “Save my soul,” sounds harsh. A better way of saying it would be I wanted an intimate relationship with God.
 
Actually, deciding was like being tossed about in a storm. There was fear and anxiety about leaving home. My brothers and sisters were much younger; I knew how much I would miss them. There was another question: Did I want to deprive myself of the joys of being a wife and mother?
 
I prayed for guidance and shared my feelings with family and friends. My father was disappointed, but I was encouraged by the others. I went to a reception and profession ceremony of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I was inspired by their desire to give themselves totally. I too had that desire; I wanted the freedom to be available for God’s people. Religious life provided that freedom. I knew I had to take the risk of saying “yes.” Once that happened, I had great peace.
 
During my religious life I have enjoyed being a teacher, administrator, pastoral associate, diocesan director of religious education and chaplain in a hospital. The rewarding part of these ministries has been the relationships I have enjoyed with parents, students, catechists, teachers and patients. I have been able to challenge, to encourage and to be compassionate. I believe that God is within each one of us.
 
Who am I? What am I looking for? Is there something more? These are burning questions. Ultimately God continues to remain a mystery: faithful friend, lover, guide, listener, healer. The challenge continues. “Will you follow me, even in darkness? Even when you don’t know where I will lead you?” Come and see!