This past Sunday's Times Picayune ran an indepth profile on Alison McCrary, a young lawyer who is on her way to becoming a sister. Here are some highlights from reporter Sheila Stroup's story:
“People have such a misconception of what nuns are,” says McCrary. “We’re supposed to run into the world, not out of it. Our eyes are wide open, and our sleeves are rolled up.”
“My mother is Cherokee,” she says. “She wasn’t welcome at the white school or the black school when she was a girl. She just recently learned to read and write.”
Where McCrary lived, Confederate flags flew on many buildings, and the Ku Klux Klan marched in the square on weekends. “You grow up with something, you think it’s normal,” she says. “But that isn’t normal. . . . There are so many struggles of the poor and oppressed,” she says. “If I’m not engaged in some kind of social change, then something is wrong.”
She entered the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in August 2007. During her work as a paralegal and volunteer activities as a law student, she met several Sisters of St. Joseph and saw the important work they were doing, and she felt called to become a nun.
“I met Sister Helen Prejean and Sister Lory Schaff and all these incredible women who were living the gospel values, and I thought, ‘I want that,’” she says. She started meeting with a spiritual advisor, and after finishing law school and passing the bar in May, 2010, she took the first step to becoming a Sister of St. Joseph on Aug. 15, 2010.
“I knew I had to find the beauty in the middle of all the struggle,” she says. “My decision is something I feel at peace with. . . . I feel like I’m called to that commitment.”
When her fellowship is over in April, McCrary will begin the second step in becoming a nun. She will go from her busy ministry in criminal justice reform and cultural rights advocacy to a two-year novitiate. “You can’t work or volunteer,” she says. “It’s a time of contemplation, a time to explore your relationship with God.” She will live in Chicago with the other Sister of St. Joseph novices in a house owned by the congregation. “I think it will be really rewarding,” she says. She looks forward to finishing her novitiate and making her first vows in April 2014.