Skip to comments.SIBLING VOCATIONS - Early calls led two sisters to same religious order
Posted on 01/14/2005 12:58:25 PM PST by NYer
Sister Laurie Marie Parisi, CR, hears it everywhere she goes. It's on the lips of parents at the St. Casimir's pre-school in Albany, of co-workers and even, recently, of a fellow patron at a Latham store.
"He said that I was the youngest nun he'd ever seen," said Sister Laurie.
"Yes," finished Sister Lisa Rose Parisi, CR, her real-life sibling. "We get that no matter where we go."
At 25 and 23, Sisters Laurie and Lisa are among the youngest nuns in the Albany Diocese.
The two sister-sisters, who live at the Resurrection provincial house in Castleton, are in the process of committing themselves to their religious order.
Sister Laurie professed her first vows last year, while Sister Lisa is completing the second year of her novitiate and plans to profess her first vows in September.
Just a few years ago, they said, they were "typical teenagers," attending school and going to the mall, talking on the phone, and holding down after-school jobs. They attended Schenectady High School, where they were members of the marching band.
"We were so normal," laughed Sister Lisa.
Normal, too, was the sisters' involvement at Schenectady's St. Paul the Apostle Church, where they taught kindergarten and nursery-age faith formation classes. Laurie volunteered at the parish rectory, while Lisa sang in the choir.
Their parents, who were faith formation teachers and Eucharistic ministers, served as models for them. At night, the family would say the Rosary together.
Now, "my mom brings our pictures everywhere," said Sister Lisa. "No matter what we do, our parents are there to support us. God called both of us to religious life, and they are very happy that we are doing what God wants."
From an early age, Laurie found herself attracted to the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, another young woman who discovered her call to serve God as a religious when still a teenager.
She had been thinking casually about a religious vocation since her early teens, but it wasn't until she was confirmed that the option became a real one. In her senior year, she started attending discernment meetings run by the diocesan Vocations Team. She met and spoke with representatives of the various religious orders in the Diocese.
She found her match almost immediately with the Sisters of the Resurrection and began a live-in discernment year in January 1998, only six months after graduating high school. She entered as a postulant that August.
"Everything just stopped," she recalled. "I knew this was it."
Meanwhile, Lisa had also quietly been considering a vocation. During her senior year, she was a pastoral care volunteer at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, bringing the Eucharist to patients. It proved to be a crucial, life-changing experience.
For the first time, she said, she "saw people in that kind of ministry where you bring the Eucharist to people, talk about God and deepen faith. That's when I started to think that I really wanted to do something that's 'other-centered,' where I can give my life as service to people."
Those small considerations "burst into flame" after she visited her sister at the Castleton provincial house. "I felt that I could do this forever," she said of the experience.
Taking the plunge
Lisa graduated from high school and spent a year in discernment with the sisters before beginning the order's formal live-in discernment period in 2001. In 2003, she became a novice.
"Once I became a postulant, my love for the community -- for the vows and the desire to perfect those vows, and my love for Jesus -- deepened to such an extent to where I wanted to plunge right in," Sister Lisa explained.
"I love working with the elderly and those who are sick, and I especially like working with the dying. What I hope to bring to [such people] is a sense of peace where they are, and that God loves them, and that their life is important."
Both sisters hope other women will hear -- and answer -- God's call to a religious vocation.
Said Sister Laurie, "Our whole community is full of hope that God is still calling women to our congregation. We are women of hope. We know that God is calling women to our community. It's very hard today for youth to hear the call. They're so stressed between cell phones, iPods, beepers. There's so much noise today that they really don't have that opportunity to just think. It's hard to listen."
"Hard, but not impossible," finished Sister Lisa.
As young people, they know how difficult it can be to "go against what the other kids are doing," Sister Laurie said. "Sometimes, it was hard to keep grounded in faith and to make moral choices."
She recommends that young people -- whether they're discerning a vocation or simply feeling a need to connect themselves with Christ and the Church -- work towards listening, finding quiet time and praying. She encouraged them to go to Mass, pray the Rosary and cultivate an active prayer life. Prayer, she noted, can be done almost anywhere in a busy life: driving in the car, before sleep at night or right after getting up in the morning.
Most of all, Sister Laurie advised young people to listen to and acknowledge a vocational call -- for the religious life, or otherwise.
"If you feel a call burning in your heart, don't let anything or anyone stop you," she said. "It's like the Nike commercial -- just do it. Sit down and talk with somebody. The most important thing is to follow the plan God has for you. Through His will, you are led to happiness and to Him."
Listen to call
It can be a struggle, acknowledged Sister Lisa. "You're battling with yourself and what you want and what society is expecting. But our society isn't just MTV. There are a lot of young people out there whose faith is so vibrant. That's when you're truly living."
"Our goal is to be the best religious we can possibly be, so that through us God will be able to radiate to others and to show young people that God wants them, that God desires the zeal and enthusiasm of youth in the Church," said Sister Laurie. "What we need to pray for is that other young people would be on fire with faith."
(Being real-life sisters in the same religious order has its "challenges and rewards," said Sister Lisa. "We've always gotten along pretty well; but, in any relationship, you bump elbows." Sister Laurie added: "Because we are sisters through blood as well as through religion, our love for each other has deepened in the sense that Christ has brought us together. It gives a deeper aspect to the love that we have for each other." Sister Laurie, a senior at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She hopes to continue teaching. Sister Lisa attended school to become a LPN during her postulancy and will work in nursing after she makes her first vows in September. A third Parisi sibling, Katie, is pursuing a degree in social work at Saint Rose.)
This cannot be ... Back in the '70s I was assured that getting rid of the habits was necessary for the sisters to remain "relevant".
after perusing their site, I imagine few of those sisters spend much time in Purgatory. What a beautiful community! I've always been fascinated by the cloistered life. Had I not met my husband 3 years ago, I would probably be seriously looking into monasticism right now. But God had other plans, so here I am, posting on Freep instead of at Vespers :)
Abundant blessing to these two sisters!