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Sister Cathy Campbell: What does it mean to you to be a Catholic Sister today?

Note: Here is the eighth blog in our series celebrating Catholic Sisters Week, which concluded on March 14, 2020. During the week, many sisters have shared here on our blog what being a sister means to them. Sister Cathy Campbell has written the eighth of such blog posts below.

The Call I couldn’t refuse

I never intended to be a consecrated religious woman BUT God had different plans for me! As a teenager growing up in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, I was firmly focused on being a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper reporter. In fact, I envisioned myself being a sportswriter covering major league baseball.

Sister Cathy Campbell

No matter how many Milky Way candy bars my high school journalism teacher slipped me along with her stories of how wonderful it was to be a Sister of Providence, I firmly resisted her campaign to lure me into the convent.

I came to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College to earn a degree in journalism, not to be drawn into a life as a religious sister or an educator. That all changed sometime in my sophomore year when I found myself fascinated by the wisdom and gifts of my “J” teacher, Sister Mary Gregory, SP (a.k.a. Sister Jeanne Knoerle).

She never asked me to consider being a vowed religious; rather, she witnessed to me the immense joy that a woman could experience if she relied fully on the Providence of God to lay out the path of her life. She was bright and witty and always committed to enabling each of us to find out who we were and were becoming.

She encouraged me to follow my dream of being a journalist, but also to listen in prayer to the whispers of God’s invitations to the variety of possibilities that grace might offer me.

And in the 55 years I have been a Sister of Providence, I have discovered those possibilities have been imaginative and endless.

Sister Marceline (left) and Sister Cathy Campbell

Now, in my mid-70s, I am once again recreating myself as a Sister of Providence, residing in one of our retirement communities here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. I continue to write for our Congregation publications, like HOPE. I also am exploring new ministries. Like assisting with liturgies at the Federal Corrections Camp (minimum security) in Terre Haute, being part of the SP Climate Change  Task Force, and assisting with various events like Christmas Fun at the Woods.

I offer workshops on the Mystics for the Providence Spirituality & Conference Center. I sometimes lead tours of the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and I enjoy welcoming visitors to the historic sites here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

On the eve of professing perpetual vows in 1972, I wrote a prayer in which I told the Christ, to lead me wherever Providence wished to take me:
I want to be “adventure bound in you O God wherever that might lead.”

And what adventures I have had! I am confident that more are on the horizon too if I but say “Yes” when Providence calls.

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Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union/Chicago. Sister Cathy also ministers as a retreat facilitator for the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with special interests in scripture and the mystics.

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3 Comments

  1. Mary E Heins on March 15, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Hi, Sr. Cathy. What a neat story of your life as a Sister! I can see that you would have made a great sports journalist! : )
    It’s amazing, the mysterious ways God speaks to us and provides us with direction and completeness for our lives. There’s never a lack of something to do. And you have done so many different things! Thanks for giving us a glimpse at the possibilities.

  2. Paula Modaff, SP on March 15, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    You are amazing, Cathy. You continue to listen and respond to the subtle and clear invitations of the Holy. You reflect the energy of God’ unconditional love. Thank you for being so faithful.

  3. Eileen Horan, PA on March 19, 2020 at 9:10 am

    I love hearing about your call to religious life in high school. I love hearing about how your teacher slipped you candy bars and how S. Jeanne modeled the religious life to you. I’m so glad you followed the urgings of the Holy Spirit and may God bless you as you continue to serve Him.

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