Growing up, Sister Martin Thérèse knew she wanted to be a wife and mother and there was never a thought of a religious vocation. God knew differently and tugged at her heart until she listened and responded. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and He will guide you if you but listen.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Sr. Martin Thérèse, your story is multifaceted in many ways. Tell me about your education –
Sr. Martin Thérèse: After I graduated from high school, I wanted to go to Franciscan University; between my first year at Franciscan and my second year, I served with N.E.T. Ministries. I loved it because it stretches us out of our comfort zone.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: You’re living with host families throughout the year. You’re already learning how to beg. The Dominicans are mendicant, so we have that aspect, and it forces you to face your own humanity and to say, “What bugs me in another person, and how can I get over it?” You have to live with this team wherever you are sent. Sister, tell us a few more of your experiences there.
Sr. Martin Thérèse: N.E.T. formed me, and I mean that. My parents laid the groundwork, but N.E.T. taught me how to live in community, and my team was absolutely wonderful. We’re still in contact today, and it’s twenty-some odd years later. Every day, we’d go on retreat, and we would serve anywhere from grade schools, to universities, to family retreats every single day. We’d be giving our testimonies, and we had team prayer every day, so we’d get together for an hour a day, and it was mostly singing praise and worship and praying. Then we’d have Mass every day and go to confession, but we did live a poor life as well. We received a stipend once a month, and we had to use that money throughout that month. It wasn’t that much. We traveled around in a 15-passenger van with a trailer, so I learned how to drive that as well because I was not going to go without driving the entire year.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Did you see the fruit of your labors?
Sr. Martin Thérèse: Not really. It was more planting the seeds because we were in and out. We would do a retreat for a day or a weekend, and then we were gone. I have never run into anyone that I ministered to back then. I’m in contact with my team, but the children and young adults that we’ve ministered to, I have no idea. There are two Religious on my team, myself and Father Emmanuel of the C.F.R.s, and then everyone else is married or doing whatever.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: You did that for one year. God healed you by stretching you and you gave yourself too, which is beautiful. That’s a lot for you. Tell us about how you found your vocation? This has many layers to it as well.
Sr. Martin Thérèse: It does. I had no desire to be a Sister, and I wanted to get married and have lots of kids. I had gone to confession, and was on my way out of the chapel at Franciscan University. I went out of my way for some odd reason (to the vocation rack). There was a brochure that said Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist. I thought, “That is a beautiful title.” I put it in my bag, and I went to class.
Later that day, I was leaving campus, and the thought came to me that I should write the Sisters. I thought, “That’s kind of dumb. What am I going to say to a bunch of nuns – I don’t want to be one.” The thought came back to me, “You should write the Sisters.” Again, I thought, “I have no desire.” I kept pushing it out of my head. As the week was going on, this nagging feeling kept coming. It was stronger and stronger and stronger, and I thought, “Oh, for pity’s sake,” so I sat down with a laptop and wrote, “Dear Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, this is who I am. This is where I’m from. I served with N.E.T. Ministries. I go to school at Franciscan University. I have no desire to be a Sister. The only reason I’m writing you is to get rid of this nagging feeling that I have and if you even get this, it’s only because that’s the only way I can get rid of this feeling. I think it’s great you’re in the habit.”
Then I mailed it because the feeling would not go away. Within a week, I received a letter from you – “You just might have a vocation.” I thought, “No, I do not have a vocation!”
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: I’m thinking, “She’s fighting it hard. God is after her.” I was very suspicious. I have to say, Sister, when you made up your mind, you gave it everything you could, to the extent that you were capable of at that moment.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz:
Sister, I thank you for coming today and for being part of all this because your heart shows that you love it, hook, line, and sinker, and you so desired to share it with others. Thanks for the laughs and the beauty behind it. God bless.