The Strength of Religious Women

What I learned from a group of religious sisters

Guest Post by Abby Blaes, CSJ Intern


Whenever someone asks me where I work, I smile a bit knowing that what I’m going to say they would never have suspected. “I work for an order of sisters in their communications department.” Young people are genuinely surprised by my response. Their confusion is understandable as the typical response would be “I work as a hostess” or “I work in retail.” I’ve gotten just about every response imaginable from them. “So, wait, are you a nun?” “Do they wear those big dress things?” (The answer to this one is no, most of them choose not to wear a habit). “What do you even do?” and “That’s an… (interesting, weird, cool,) job.”

On my first day working for the Sisters, I could hardly contain my nervousness. I was worried about saying or doing something wrong that would lead to some sort of discipline. What I found was an endless supply of excitement and enthusiasm about my presence.

I’ve worked for the Sisters every summer for the last four years. It started with my volunteering because I needed service hours in order to graduate from high school. However, the next summer, they hired me back as an official employee. I returned the next summer after that… and the next summer after that.

I hope next year to find an internship with another company, so this might very well be the last time I work with the Sisters. With that in mind, I felt I needed to thank this group of women for all they have done for me. I felt I needed to recognize the good that they do for the world and for me, personally.

This job has not only given me invaluable work experience and an absolutely incredible work environment; it has given me so much more.

I can say very confidently that I will never work with better, more authentic people. Every face I pass offers a smile and a hello. I’m confident that every person I meet has a genuine concern and care for my well-being.

I have never met more dedicated, inspiring women in my life. I have had the privilege of getting to know these women throughout my time here. I have heard their authentic, never ending concern for the marginalized in society: LGBT persons, immigrants, women’s and civil rights, just to name a few. I have learned their individual stories of mission work in Gulu, Uganda, educating in schools across the country and world, and generally being present and resistant to the injustices of the world.

They make declarations to serve everyone and anyone that they meet to the best of their ability. They give of themselves fully and wholly to the world around them and often do not think of themselves at all.

I have never met a group more dedicated to the people of the world and to the world itself, advocating for a healthier planet, sustainable energy and more of the like. These women inspire me daily. I am so incredibly fond of their company, their influence, and the stories they have shared with me.

In my job, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing women who were present at the Civil Rights march in Selma and met women who are still fervently, passionately working for equal rights for all. I have met women who have dedicated their lives to teaching and working with the children of the nation and the world, all the way to places like Japan, China, Uganda, and beyond. I have met women who have written books about history, music, and life in general. I have met women whose thirst for education was never quenched which is evident from their two, three degrees and continued interest in the surrounding world. I have read the newspaper, eaten lunch, laughed, worked and lived life to the fullest with this extraordinary group of individuals.

They would never claim any of these things as extravagant or of great accomplishment because humility is also a part of their vows. And they are genuine in that. They believe that the acts of charity and love are simply the things they should do as people and children of God.

I’m not a Sister, though, so I’ll do a little bragging on their behalf. As an outsider who has been welcomed into this community, I feel such a need to thank these women for everything they do for their community and for me. A little recognition can go a long way and you all have truly inspired me to give all of myself to the people I meet and to the world around me. Your unending kindness, love, and concern for the dear neighbor has directly and indirectly affected me. I will carry that with me always.

When someone first asked me the question, “where do you work?” I was embarrassed and unsure. Now when someone asks me that same question, I smile and know just how lucky I am to have had this opportunity and to have met this group of women. I know that I now have a province, a congregation, a world of people who will support me in all that I do. Knowing there are people like the Sisters in the world gives me hope that things are going to be alright.

These women move mountains, make a real difference in their community, and share their unconditional love and support to everyone they meet. Their strength and their power far exceeds others I know. I hope that their example continues to lead us in a direction towards betterment and towards true humanity. I know that they have already lead me toward a better outlook on life—a more genuine concern for the people I meet and the earth that I live on.

Originally published on Odyssey Beta