Jill Kress, a novice of the Monroe, Michigan Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is taking questions. In an interview with the Michigan Catholic she talked about her vocation, snd in a video (see below) she answered the question, “What special advice would you have for someone who is an only child and wants to become a Sister?"
The newspaper asked her a series of good questions, and she had equally good responses. “What,” she was asked, “would you suggest to someone now discerning the call?” “Listen. Notice. Pray,” she said. “Listen to yourself, and that sometimes means having another, such as a spiritual director to reflect back at you what they’re hearing. Notice what feelings, ideas emerge from this. Does a certain theme keep coming back? And pray—in solitude, in community, in whatever ways work for you, hold your desires in prayer and see what happens. It’s a pretty simple formula, I didn’t invent it, [and] it’s helpful to have some way to track inner feelings.”
Why did she think God called her? “How does God call each of us to our true vocation, to what Thomas Merton calls our true selves? We all have a calling, and to figure out what we are called to has to do with living in such a way that we can hear that message in our lives.”
The paper then asked her about the role her own desire plays when it comes to discerning her vocation. “This might not make much sense,” she said, “but I would say that my own desire has everything and nothing to do with my vocation. I say it has everything to do with it because I can’t imagine wanting anything else . . . and yet, it’s not really my desire. I believe it comes from God.
“And yes, I do think that God calls us to a life we’re not necessarily comfortable with. It’s not about suffering for the sake of suffering, I am not at all advocating that. I think of this more as a ‘holy longing,’ or like the Jesuit principle of magis, always seeking the more. The cofounders of the IHM community, Louis Florent Gillet and Theresa Maxis, were always seeking out how to better serve God. As Louis Gillet once wrote, ‘I desire to be everywhere when I see so many needs.’ To IHMs today that speaks of a sense of dis-comfort with the way things are in the world—dissatisfaction with injustice, violence, and poverty in the world, and acting out of that holy longing for peace, wholeness, reconciliation. There is a certain amount of unsettledness with being a seeker, and to the extent that God calls us to see with new eyes the injustices, but also the beauty of the world and to continual conversion.”
Did anyone try to discourage her from pursuing religious life? “I’ve . . . had people in my life who have tried to dissuade me. This has been difficult because my tendency is to want to please others, and knowing that people who are close to me were unsupportive of my call to the IHMs was hard to take. But ultimately it’s between me and God and no one else.”
Read more about Sr. Jill. And here’s the video: