Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Ellen James Spellman, CSJ

It is a gift for me to have this opportunity, to take the time to reflect and to remember how it all began. I wonder—Can I go back that far?

 I believe it goes back to my earliest days, to love and warmth, to faithfulness and commitment, to forgiveness and understanding, to prayer and worship in a family that offered me life and taught me in turn to offer life and love to others.
I remember my earliest school days that meant so much. (I was one of those who always loved school). School for me meant the sisters, the Allegheny Franciscans to be exact. I have such fond memories of them: the excellence of their teaching, the times of music and laughter, the pleasantness of their smiles and their genuine care for me, the example of their prayer and the gift that prayer would become for me.
In high school, I met the sisters of St. Joseph, and continued my pleasant experience of the sisters who taught me well and who were interested and cared about their students. At the same time I was meeting new and exciting friends, having fun at dances and basketball games, cheerleading and enjoyed life. It was a wonderful time for me. The best part was that I was aware of life and love as I set my goal to continue involvement in the lives of others as an elementary schoolteacher. Although the thought had entered my mind to enter the convent, I really wanted no part of it…yet!
Off I went to The College of Saint Rose to pursue my career as a teacher!
At the time of graduation from high school, one of my teachers gave me a prayer to say. For some reason I said that prayer every day; it was a prayer that urged me to be open to God’s probing and to God’s invitation to know and love my God as best I could in the life of a religious.
During that first year at Saint Rose I knew I was not where I belonged. It took a while to admit this, but as soon as I had made the decision to be open to God’s invitation, I was peace filled and anxious to get started. At the age of eighteen, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. My journey continued!
Five decades later, I can truly say this is the life for me. I thought receiving a habit and changing my name would make me a sister. It didn’t work that way. I was still me and I always will be. However, I have become a person in love with my God, and I find that God everywhere–in the child at school, in the poor at the food pantry door, in the mentally disabled, in parishioners, in my own family, in all my friends, in my sisters. This life is a blessing. I am grateful!