Interview with Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP

The article below is an excerpt taken from Mind and Heart, a weekly podcast series hosted by Sr. John Dominic Rasmussen, OP. The producer of the series was GoLEDigital, a digital community created by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

For the Audio Presentation of this article, click here:

Welcome back to Mind and Heart. Today we’re going to talk with Sister Joseph Andrew about a very special book called And Mary’s ‘Yes’ Continues.”

Sister, when you came up with the idea for this book, I was very excited because you offered a new perspective. Your perspective provides more of a day-to-day framework, while my perspective is based off my time being involved in Catholic education as a teacher and principal at different schools.

Through this work, I realized that society does not truly understand what consecrated men and women can bring to an institution nor does it understand the beauty of religious life. This book is an answer to this challenge.

Looking at the structure of the book, you can see how much it brings together. The book has the foundations of religious life, the story of what religious life is according to different sisters, different experiences of the journey, and the sisters’ vocation stories. How in the world did you think of bringing all these different things together?

Sr. Joseph Andrew:

That’s a great question. I think the need for these answers is just ubiquitous. As the vocation director of our community, I go to many places where young people, guys and girls, have never met a religious person.

They barely have an idea of who we are or why we are this way. There’s a real dearth of religious and priestly vocations in the world today. And I think we had to do something to fill that space.

Part of our community’s vision and desire is to set the world on fire. Yet we only have so many physical bodies to do it with. The invitations continue to come, and they’re not just for sisters to teach in a particular school. In other words, these invitations are requests to bring that love of Christ physically, so to speak, through our human flesh and blood as spiritual mothers to these children. In an effort to do that on a larger dimension, our community has many initiatives, many of which you are leading, and we also recognize we need to get out there and tell people who we are and what we do.

St. John Paul II said to a group of religious women one time, “Don’t take Christ off the street.” In other words, when people see us they feel raised up.
For many people who begin to consider religious life, and especially for the young people, they don’t have a clue what they’re considering, but their hearts are mulling it over. They can be very confused because they really don’t know much. They may ask why and how God somehow putting this idea in their minds and hearts. To answer that, and since we can’t be everywhere, we wrote this book to send out.

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Sr. John Dominic:

Right. You can get this book on Amazon, or you can get it from GoLEPress. Everybody–every family– needs one of these.

Often times, young people see the religious habit, and they may be attracted to something that they may not understand. They need to be told what it is. I hear all different reactions, but sometimes you can hear children say to their mom or their dad, “What is that?” or “Who is that?”

That’s why I love how you put this together. There is an opportunity to learn more and feed the mind, and then there are the personal stories about the sisters’ different experiences when they were discerning.

Obviously, we both know that every parent is going to react differently when their daughter says they want to go into the convent. And that’s important for young women to know. They’re not going to be the only person in the history of the world whose parents are upset when they’re in the convent.

Sr. Joseph Andrew:

Exactly. That’s right, and that’s usually the majority.

Sr. John Dominic:

So let’s explain the title and why you chose this one.

Sr. Joseph Andrew:

The first point is, in a religious vocation, God does the calling for anyone’s vocation. For men, that could be married life, priesthood, or a virtuous single vocation. It is the same for women: it could be religious life, married life, or a virtuous single vocation. It’s God who puts it in the heart, and he creates it a certain way so that we respond to his love in a particular manner. The way in which we respond is our vocation. So whatever our vocation is, it is God-given.

Now, we need Mary to be with us, and in a particular manner. She is our paradigm in religious life because she was both virgin and mother. And that’s really what we are, virgin and spiritual mother.

Therefore, we have to have her influencing us and inspiring us to be those women who go out and change society for the good and the beautiful. We have to do this in a manner where we have the interior freedom to be mothers to everyone, not just our little brood of children that we could have had. We are out there for everyone.

When the daughter of the father receives the vocation, and if it should be religious life, Mary’s very, very present because she’s our mother-in-law and our spouse. It can’t get more clear than that.

Sr. John Dominic:

So, there’s that mystical espousal. To show that she belongs to Him, and that we belong to Him – we say yes through our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Well, Sister, thank you. I’m so very grateful that I had this opportunity to thank you. This book is a great gift to families and all men and women discerning God’s vocation for their lives, and it’s a great gift for Lumen Ecclesiae Press to be able to publish it. Please come back and visit with us again.

Sr. Joseph Andrew:

It was my pleasure, and I would love to.

Sr. John Dominic:

Listeners, make sure to subscribe to Sr. Joseph Andrew’s podcast on vocations called The Truth Shall Set You Free – available everywhere podcasts can be found.

About:

Sr. John Dominic Rasmussen is a Foundress and General Editor of Lumen Ecclesiae Press for the Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Her podcast Mind and Heart can be downloaded every Monday at 3:00 p.m. EST from iTunes. A visual presentation of the podcast can also be seen on YouTube at GoLEDigital.

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