Sr. Basil Marie The first time I ever thought of a religious vocation was during a career day. You had to get up in front of everyone and tell them what you wanted to be when you grew up, and I remember saying I want to be a Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleader! I feel like everyone even from a really young age knew they wanted to be such and such but [as I grew] I knew that my heart was made for service.
I kept feeling I was being tugged to something but I could never put my finger on it; I wasn’t able to pinpoint it because I hadn’t really developed a faithful prayer life. I kind of just went through the motions: I went to Mass regularly and was involved in the parish but didn’t know Christ Himself. It wasn’t until high school that I ran into our own Sr. Mary Elizabeth and it hit me like a ton of bricks; that’s when it all clicked, all the puzzle pieces, all the yearnings, all the joy, found its place and it terrified me. That’s what God made me for and so I avoided Sister like the plague because I knew if God showed me where my vocation was I’d have to follow with my whole heart or else I wouldn’t ever be happy. I was kind of paralyzed in the fear that I would lose my friends or people wouldn’t think I was cool because I had a lot of friends.
Sr. Maria Catherine encouraged me to go on a retreat and I remember just being so scared the whole flight up because I knew I would either probably find out, yes, this is where God was calling me, or no, this isn’t where God was calling me and I really liked riding the fence. I didn’t really want to know because I didn’t have to do anything; I could just kind of say, “Oh, I’m discerning” and then not have to do anything about it.
I remember coming here and just going to the chapel the first time and knowing that my heart was meant to serve the Lord out of this Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I remember wanting to enter right then and there and you were like, “That’s beautiful and when you turn 18, you can!” That was really hard but it taught me a lot about my vocation because I had to go through two more years of high school and constantly explaining to my peers, “No, I actually want to give my whole life to Jesus” and “No, I do. I know that will make me happy and I know that’s what will bring me fulfillment!”
Sr. Joseph Andrew Every time I visit the University of Notre Dame, [the Holy Cross priests) all ask about you – but one of them has since become a bishop who’s very close to you, correct?
Sr. Basil Marie Yes Bishop Bill walk of Pensacola Tallahassee was my pastor of growing up and he’s the first person I think I actually honestly told about a religious vocation because I knew I wanted to tell someone but I didn’t want him to be able to tell someone else. I figured the way to do that was confession. And so I went in I just started to cry and he asked, “What’s wrong?” and I was like, “Oh gosh, I think I have a religious vocation” and I’m just crying and he looked at me and said “Well, it’s not that bad.” So it was really him specifically; just the joy that I know he has serving the Lord and just giving Him everything is still an image for me of how I want to live my religious life, but obviously as a Dominican, and a Dominican in the modern world, being a radical witness to the joy of Truth.
Sr. Joseph Andrew That’s beautiful, Sister. So what advice would you have for young women considering vocations today?
Sr. Basil Marie I think maturity is a huge thing to consider when discerning a vocation to the religious life because when you say yes, God asks everything of you, and part of your yes is to give that genuinely and without fear and without reserve; knowing that He has promised to meet you in the vocation He’s made you for –
Sr. Joseph Andrew Part of your yes is that total gift of self and He will always be present with you, to be there to support you, to give you the graces that you couldn’t muster up on your own. You may know that you need them, but we can’t do that, they’re gifts from God. So say yes to God, encourage others to do so, and keep that joy, Sister, because the world needs it and they’re dying for it. So you just keep it and you keep exuding it and pray that the world has more of the gift of joy. Thank you for being with us today.