A Heart of Generosity and Love | Sr. Louis Marie, O.P.
Sister Louis Marie heard her call to religious life during her years at the University of Notre Dame; she wanted to answer immediately! Her parents, however thought it was imprudent to abandon her college degree, so she hesitated until Sister Joseph Andrew told her that if God is calling her now, she needs to follow His will, and He will provide for all. Since that time, His Grace has abundantly blessed Sister Louis Marie. She is now the Postulant Mistress for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and helps guide the new postulants in their final discernment process within the community.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Amongst our sisters, it is a common theme to pray in Eucharistic Adoration before opening their self. It’s almost as if it is the catalyst to the freedom to be able to ask the question and mean it, “What is it You will of me? Be it done to me to Your will.”
Notre Dame [where you attended University] has over fifty Eucharistic chapels spread throughout campus, and I think that, in some ways, that sets it apart. A lot of other people probably don’t think of it. If you have fifty-plus chapels with our Lord present in the Eucharist scattered throughout a very high academic, demanding, challenging, excellent university filled with young people, you’re going to make a difference because in reality, you’ve just put the Lord in their very midst. How did Eucharistic Adoration affect you?
Sr. Louis Marie: One of the things I’m realizing more and more is that no matter how much we come to know intellectually, there’s something about sitting before the Mystery of the Eucharist that humbles you and makes you realize you need God.[At Notre Dame,] I was in the pro-life group, and we had a youth rally for the youth groups in the area about the pro-life issues. We also had a vocations panel. You came, and you brought six or seven other sisters. I talked to one of those sisters, and I remember thinking, “I didn’t know that young women wore the habit.” This was the first time I’d ever seen a sister in a habit. You talked about your religious vocation, and it struck a chord deep within me.
At the time, I suppressed that because that night, I was going on my first date ever with this young man. Talk about God’s timing. Can you imagine? I was like, “Oh, this is wonderful. Nice to meet you. See you later.” That stayed on my mind and heart, yet for the rest of the summer I dated this young man. He was a great, wonderful friend and Catholic. He’s married now with children. It wasn’t an authentic relationship. I wasn’t being true to myself.
I remember thinking about marrying him and what that would mean. My heart needed to give itself completely to the whole world in the way that a bride of Christ does. I can articulate that now, but at the time, I just knew there was something not right about me continuing that relationship.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Was it smooth sailing once you decided that this was it?
Sr. Louis Marie: When I told [my parents] I wanted to be a Sister, they were thrilled by that. Then I said, ” I’m going to enter right now,” which was right in the middle of my college years. They were upset about that because they thought that was foolhardy. What would happen if I didn’t continue in that vocation? I need a degree. I need something to be able to do.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: How did you make your decision before God?
Sr. Louis Marie: I had never disagreed with my parents, so I began my thinking that that must be God’s will that I not enter. I conveniently ignored all of your e-mails until finally, you called me. God bless you and thank you. I started off by saying, “I’m going to do all this good at Notre Dame. Don’t worry, I’ll enter in two years. I’ll have all these vocations lined up for you. Blah blah blah blah blah.”
You cut me off and said, “This is a heresy of goods. If God is calling you to be His spouse, nothing will make up for the lack of that. At the end of your life, He will say to you, ‘You gave Me all these years, but you didn’t give Me these two years and I asked you for them. Why?'” What kind of good response will I have? None. Nothing. There is nothing that compares.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Sister, I love the way you express that because I think in our generation today, young people and even many parents think what does a year or two or three or four or five matter. If she has a vocation, she will not lose that particular vocation, and I would like to say God won’t, perhaps, lose it for her, but she will get distracted, especially with women.
When God calls, He wants, and if there’s not a good, honest prudent reason for waiting, we are dangling a very fragile gift over a precipice, and we could sneeze and lose it in a heartbeat. As you said, there is no substitute for the total gift of self to God no matter how many “goods” you would be doing. Your heart would not be consecrated to Him, and that’s what He was asking.
Would you tell us about your teaching and how that, too, is feeding into your present obedience?
Sr. Louis Marie: One of the things I think about when I think about all of my “obediences” is that God’s Providence makes my heart sing with joy at how everything fits together. There are so many ways in which it does. I’ve taught in two different places. I taught in Chicago at Saint Ignatius College Prep for one year, and then I taught Chemistry in Lansing for one year at Lansing Catholic High School before I was asked by Mother to be the Postulant Mistress.
I work with the new Sisters who have just entered. It’s been a great privilege and joy for me because I get to talk about the Lord and our Religious Life, what I love about our life, and I also get to teach them the Catechism, but even bear witness to me. I get a front-row seat in Grace because you see God’s love for them unfolding or you see them grasping His love.
I’m the Postulant Mistress. Our postulancy is one year before they become a novice. Postulant means “to ask” in Latin, and they’re asking God, “Is this Your will for me? Is this what You desire for me?” They’re entering into the life. “Does this make me who I’m supposed to be and make me more and more who God has called me to be?” That’s what we look for.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Are we getting many vocations?
Sr. Louis Marie: We are, by the grace of God and by your sweat and blood and tears, Sister. They are coming from all over the creation, usually an average age of around 20, 21, 22.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: What would a typical day be for our postulants?
Sr. Louis Marie: They enter into the prayer life of the community right away. They enter into the Monastic observances of our life: the silence, and the beautiful part of our Religious Life that makes it possible for us to be connected to the Lord, to be united with Him, and then they also have classes. Our community life is a vital part of our Religious Life, especially as Dominicans, living and sharing this life together. That’s something great we see.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: It’s your role as their spiritual mother, in particular, along with the Mother Superior, Mother Assumpta, to form them in what does it mean to be a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. How do you go about that?
Sr. Louis Marie: One of the things I emphasize before you get into all the spiritual things is how do you relate with the other sisters. I always point out to them that prayer and community life are two sides of the same coin. Can you be attentive to one another? Can you take your duties seriously? Can you cook? Can you clean? Can you sew? If you can’t, are you trying to learn?
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: I love the enthusiasm and joy that your vocation has brought out in your own family.
Sr. Louis Marie: My parents continue to an example for me. They sacrifice. Their faith has deepened profoundly through the years. It’s been a gift. They are a grace for me. We have this mutual prayer support. God is good. We both want to go to Heaven to be with the Lord.