Sister Davina asked me to tell you something about how I became a nun.
And who is this Sister Benedict? My connection with the Noviceship is that I teach the postulants and novices about the history of the community.
Anyway, I hope it will help you if I tell you some of my experiences:
I was 35 when I entered monastic life, not here, but in Another Benedictine Monastery . . . At that time, it was considered a late vocation, but nowadays we would consider 20s and 30s as quite normal. I certainly thought I was rather old to be making a big change in my life: I had a good job, a career even, my own house, car, two cats! My private life had been busy, with a drama group and politics. But I must say at that time things were not moving particularly fast.
It was a pilgrimage to Rome that started me off. After I came back I heard a young man at the English College Rome talking on the radio with great enthusiasm about committing his whole life to God. I suddenly felt I wanted to do that, and as I was a woman that meant being a nun.
I knew nothing about what were nuns and what were sisters. The first sister I ever spoke to was on the bus during that pilgrimage, some sort of missionary. Rome was swarming with sisters. I saw a young nun all in white in St. Peter’s, looking at me. I wanted to know what order she belonged to, but someone said there were such a lot.
I became a Catholic when I was 19, after having wanted to, on and off, since I was 13. That had been when I read a book from the children’s library: still available: Sun Slower Sun Faster, by Meriol Trevor. I then wrote to the Catholic Enquiry Centre, without my parents knowing. I had never been baptised as my parents didn’t believe in it. So eventually when I was off to university, they let me become a Catholic: I took instruction and was baptised. But it was a rather private thing, almost secret. The friends I had were not Catholics. I suppose I was cowardly really.
To be continued!