Vocation Story

Sister Michelle of All Saints, O.Carm.

As I look back over the years, I see how my vocation was blooming since the age of five.  At that time, my mother needed to see my sister's first grade teacher and I went with her.  I looked up at the teacher and said to myself "I'm going to be a Sister just like you some day."

I lived on Middle Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one half mile from my grammar school, St. Patrick's where the Sisters of Mercy taught us.  My grade school years passed with much happiness.  When my friends came over after school we often played school and I was the teacher dressed as a Sister.  When I was in the 6th grade, my principal asked me if I would go to the store and buy donuts for the Sisters. I continued to do this until the twelfth grade.  At first I rode my bike and did many errands for them and then drove a car when I got my license. What joy I had the day I went for the donuts and the Sister opened the convent door!  I was allowed to wait in their parlor until Sister gave me the money for the donuts I had bought.  How curious I was to see the rest of the convent and how I wanted to see the Sisters' chapel!  As the weeks went by, the Sister who was the cook invited me into the kitchen for a delicious hot muffin and milk.  How delighted I was to see their kitchen and how hard Sister was working.  Eventually, one Saturday she took me into the chapel.  I envisioned that I was kneeling in one of their pews.  The chapel was beautiful and I knew that I wanted to be there some day.  Saturday errands continued and one day Sister took me to their back porch.  There were 15 rocking chairs there; some people thought all Sisters had rocking chairs.

In the 7th grade I was introduced to St. Therese, the Little Flower, when we had to do biographies on a saint for religion class.  In my room I had a plaque with St. Therese on it and I always thought it was of the Blessed Mother.  At an early age I learned the prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep" and said that prayer to St. Therese.  I began praying to St. Therese and asked her to guide me in my vocation.  Praying to her each day has continued throughout my religious life.  Through the years my thoughts often changed about becoming a Sister but then something wonderful happened. In my Freshman year of high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, New Hampshire, a Carmelite Sister for the Aged and Infirm came and gave us a vocation talk in the school auditorium.  She was dressed so differently from the Sisters of Mercy.  I liked her habit very much.  She had a great sense of humor and was very warm.  One of the homes run by the Carmelite Sisters was next to our school.  Sister told us about the Carmelette program at St. Ann's where young girls volunteered with the elderly.  She told us how much the residents needed our visits and help and how much the Sisters needed us.  Twenty four of us volunteered to help and became Carmelettes.  We were assigned various days and my day was Friday from 2:30-5 p.m.  The Sisters were very friendly and warm and always gave us delicious snacks and often dinner.  The Sister in charge gave us each a yellow and white striped uniform to wear.  I thought it was great and so special.  We visited with the residents, assisted in the laundry, served in the dining room and often washed pots and pans while the Sisters were at dinner.

As time went on, we entertained the residents by putting on shows and plays for them.  Mother Angeline Teresa, the Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters came for a visit.  What joy it was that day because I had the privilege of presenting her with a bouquet of roses from the Carmelettes! We put on the life of St. Valentine and I was dressed as a Bishop.  Saturdays soon found me at St. Ann's making beds and mopping floors.  During these wonderful days at St. Ann's I still wanted to be a Sister of Mercy and I dreamed of teaching school. In the summer of my Junior year, I had been at York Beach, Maine working as a waitress.  I came home one day and went to St. Ann's to visit.  I went into the chapel and knelt down at the altar; St. Therese was to my left and the Infant of Prague was to my right.  As I knelt there and prayed I felt I heard a voice say: "This is your vocation."  From chapel I went to the Superior and told her I wanted to enter her order. The next day I wrote a letter to Mother Angeline and asked to be accepted.  I entered a year later on September 12, 1964.  It was fun preparing to enter and how thrilled I was to receive the long dress, cape and veil that I was to wear as a Postulant.  Six months passed quickly and another happy day was when I was received into the Order.  The happiest day of my life was First Profession Day, April 5, 1967.  My Final Profession Day was December 8, 1972.

It has been 50 years since my Entrance Day and they have been filled with much joy and so many blessings.  I have been missioned in four of our homes and have lived and worked at St. Patrick's Manor in Framingham, MA for the past nine years in Activities. I had always wanted to be a teacher but never became a teacher.  Now, however, the residents call me their Art teacher.  As I pray in chapel each day I continue to hear "This is your vocation. Come follow me."

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Sister Michelle of All Saints, O.Carm.