Sister Regina Gallo shares a bit about her SP journey thus far
Q: What has life been like for you as a young Catholic sister?
A: I entered community at the age of 29, I am now 42. I closed the door on many life events that my secular peers are a part of: marriage, motherhood, partnerships, etc. My choice for religious life as a younger sister brings a myriad of different challenges. One of those challenges is that, for the very reason I am “younger,” many of those in community that have become my closest friends are much older than I. Some have gotten sick, some have died and this is a horribly painful reality. I have buried many of my peer friends in life so I do put it in perspective; life operates on life’s terms not mine/ours.
Life as a younger Catholic sister has been a blessed and challenging journey thus far and I don’t see that ever letting up. At times, it has and continues to stretch me out of my comfort zone to go to the places I most likely would not go if I were still in the “secular” life form. It challenges me to journey with persons who have been treated unjustly, have been alienated, or have been deeply harmed by the broader institution of our Catholic church. As a Catholic sister, I have come to realize that I will always be identified with the broader institution” of our church.
Q: Explain a little about the ministries that you have been a part of and how that has helped you “break boundaries and create hope.”
A: My ministry in community has been that of a chaplain. I was a chaplain in a nursing home setting and now in a hospice setting. Ministering with so many persons of different faiths (Muslim, Jewish, various Christian denominations, and even Atheists) has been an absolutely amazing challenge and blessing. The young Catholic sister who, as she ministered to a dying Atheist man, had to respect his wish to “never pray or speak about God if I were to come and be with him” was graced and honored to hear his very last words; “I guess I was wrong, I guess I was wrong.” The experience of deep love, trust, patience, and respect broke one of the biggest boundaries possible and in the end, created an eternal hope for this person.
I have been challenged with not only helping persons cross over from their Earthly life into their new Spiritual life but I have also had to help co-workers who worked in very unjust settings. I was challenged with “walking the walk and not just talking the talk.” If I preached about injustice, I needed to confront it in the best way I could despite my powerlessness over many situations. If I did not try, I could not create hope for these people. I was trying to build bridges due to the many unjust events that were taking place. This was no easy ministerial task. It may not have solved the problems but it did appear to provide some hope.
Q: How have the older sisters’ stories impacted or touched you?
A: I have always loved hearing the stories of the “older” sisters. It has given me a deeper appreciation for their lived experiences and I hope it has also given me a greater compassion for the difficulties and pains that they go through with the ever constant changes in community and religious life as a whole. When I enter into their stories, I find myself wishing that I had some of their experiences; entering together in such large numbers, having the many years of relationships, having the balance of being a part of each other’s secular families. As younger sisters, we’ve missed out on some of that, but I have the belief that we as well can create our own history.
I also feel a deeper connection to the older sisters and their stories. It offers a certain tradition, rootedness, wisdom, and learning that I cherish in my heart and hope will continue to lead me in my future with our community. I love and thank them tremendously.
Q: What do you look forward to in the future as a Catholic sister?
A: I truly look forward to the Spirit working so deeply within all of us. I look forward to taking this journey with my sisters in community as well as all women religious as we strive to bring the loving, compassionate, just reign of God to fruition. We do not have easy tasks and we will most likely always run into our “road blocks” but we are in this together and together we will rise above anything that stands in our way in order that we may promote, what I feel are the core gospel messages: love, mercy, justice, compassion, inclusiveness, and respect.
Shared as part of the celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week as part of National Women’s History Month.