Vocation Stories


Sr. Maryalice Jaquinot, IHM

"It is often said that a vocation to the religious life is both gift and mystery."

"Dreams for the Next Fifty Years: New Members Look Toward the Future"
Panelist at the LCWR Assembly 2006

It is often said that a vocation to the religious life is both gift and mystery. At various points throughout my life, I felt an inclination towards JaquinotMaryalicereligious life yet tried to convince myself that I could live well never unwrapping the gift or exploring the mystery. It soon became clear that the draw towards religious life was too strong to deny. I felt compelled although unsure to explore what religious life might be like for me. My plan was pretty straightforward: I would gather information, remain objective, consider my options, find a valid reason not to enter and make a decision. But this wisely crafted plan excluded God, God's hopes for me and the desires of my heart. When I opened myself to consider these, I was surprised to recognize my willingness to enjoy rather than fear the gift of a religious vocation and to delve into the mystery rather than deny it.

There are many measurable ways to evaluate how well one fits with a group - appearance, attitude, goals, performance, etc. Most convincing for me was the sense that spiritually I fit within the IHM Congregation. To give witness as a community of disciples to an expansive, all-loving God is an awesome, challenging and rewarding purpose. I would encourage someone inclined towards religious life to be open to the stirrings of God within as well as to external signs of affirmation and challenge that touch one's heart for they too are the actions of God.

What does it mean to you to be a religious or member of a society of apostolic life in the church and world today?

To be a religious today demands an appreciation for the past, hope for the future and attention to the present. A thoughtful question posed by a peer at a recent gathering of IHM Sisters under the age of 55 expresses the opportunity and challenge of the current time for religious life. "Can you/I/we risk an unknown future with a known God?" My daily response of "yes" is experienced by how I spend my time, what captures my imagination, where I devote my energy, who I know, when and how I pray, how and who I love.

Today's generation of religious life is not unlike all others in that we face challenges created by internal or Maryalice Jacquinot-Auxillaryexternal forces. We work at living community and strive to respect differences while giving definition to what unites us. We may minister independently or with fewer Sisters each year. I experience the incongruence of being a professed religious in a Church that sometimes disappoints me. Through the advances in communications technology, I can feel the excitement of being a citizen of the world but must accept the accompanying its limitations and feelings of heartache and powerlessness.

Personally, I am grateful for the IHM legacy and happy to hear the stories of the days gone by. Collectively, they tell the tale of the IHM Congregation as well as the history of the ministries of the Catholic Church in the United States.
I am proud of my IHM heritage and pray that I may carry the mission forward with faith and confidence.

Hope for the Future

"I am proud of my IHM heritage and pray that I may carry the mission forward with faith and confidence."


What are your dreams for the future of religious life in the United States?

My hope is that religious life will always be available as an option for those men and women who feel called to it. Certainly, there will be fewer religious in the future based on current trends. Although we won't experience strength in numbers, I pray that we may know a profound sense of purpose in witnessing to God's unconditional love in the world. I hope that religious life will not always be defined by what it used to be but rather for the potential it still holds.

The diminishment, which cannot be denied, may reveal unexpected treasures. In particular, I anticipate that this may provide increased opportunities for the laity to assume their rightful role in tending to the ministries of the Catholic Church. Wonderful opportunities to experience adult spiritual formation, a gift of religious life, can be mutually shared through associate relationships. The future is filled with hope and promise.

Sister Maryalice currently serves as the President/CEO of St. Joseph's Center in Scranton, PA.

Maryalice Jacquinot - Resident