Calling all to know God
Bernadette “Bernie” Claps (Novice)
Bernadette Claps, who entered the community of Bon Secours on February 11, 2006, has a background in social work, counseling, and administration. Drawn to the charism of Bon Secours, Bernie began ministering at the Women’s Resource Center of Bon Secours in Baltimore. “Finding God in the midst of those in need allows individuals to claim their dignity and begin moving forward towards self-confidence and liberation,” says Bernie. “The values that the Sisters of Bon Secours live out are very much those with which I connect. I feel called to live out these values in my ministry and my interaction with others.”
Ready now to go down a new path
Sister Chris Webb
At three, Chris Webb decided she wanted to be a sister so she could play the organ in church. At 19, she wrote letters to three different religious communities but was discouraged from applying because she has diabetes. Now, Chris is finally firmly on the path of the religious life. It took some twists and turns through marriage, motherhood, and divorce, but with God leading the way, everything eventually fell into place.
“It was like something was driving me to do this,” says Chris who entered the candidate phase of formation with the Sisters of Bon Secours on January 24, 2005, the feast of the Bon Secours foundation day. “I had to know whether I really did have a calling. I was happy being a lay person in the church, working part time in hospice, re-doing my house since my sons had moved out, paying off my car, and getting ready to take on full time ministry.”
What Chris believes now is that she wasn’t just settling into her old life. “It was almost like God was preparing me for my new life. Everything that was happening was for a reason and now I know this new life was the reason.”
At the urging of the new director of mission at Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina where she worked as a medical technologist, Chris took a post card from “Guide to Religious Ministries” which was pre-addressed to the Sisters of Bon Secours Vocation Director, Sr. Pat Dowling, allowing Chris to request further information about the Sisters of Bon Secours. She brought the card home and put it by her computer.
It took her two weeks before she finally got up the courage to email Sr. Pat. “I was scared,” she says easily. “Scared I might get rejected like I had been when I was younger and be hurt. But I was also scared I would be accepted and then what would I do?”
A deep connection is made
When Sr. Pat promptly returned her call, she remembers they “talked and talked and talked.” That was in the summer of 2003. In October, she was invited to visit the community and to take a tour of their ministries in Baltimore that included the hospital; the Women’s Resource Center which offers a broad range of social services and support to women and families including domestic violence counseling, housing referrals, job readiness and parenting help; and the Community Center Learning Bank which helps connect people with higher learning opportunities.
“Once I saw the work the sister’s were doing, I had no doubt I wanted to enter into discernment with them,” says Chris. “I had completed the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program to become a certified Catholic chaplain under the direction of one of the Sisters of Bon Secours and had taken on their charism without realizing it until I saw the ministries they were involved in. These women were living the kind of life I had been describing to my spiritual director.”
Chris went to all of the Come and See vocation weekends hosted by the Sisters of Bon Secours after that October, one every three or four months, she says. In fact she had the privilege of being at the entrance ceremony of a woman entering the community as a candidate and she felt both touched and affirmed when witnessing this event. “It meant a lot to me to be part of the sisters’ community, even in such a small way.”
The Come and See weekends gave Chris time to talk with the Bon Secours Sisters and with other women interested in the congregation. She had the chance to hear our stories and share her own thoughts. Some events had as many as 10 women gathered.
Chris feels it is a magnificent gift to be living her dream. “Through my studies to become a chaplain, I’ve learned that we must feed people with more than just food,” says Chris passionately. “They should all have dignity and respect. They deserve that. The Sisters of Bon Secours offer that dignity and respect to everyone they touch—the people in their ministry, the laity and each other. They truly live their charism.” Chris took her first vows as a Religious Sister of Bon Secours on November 1, 2008
Coming to wholeness
Sister Carol Frawley
Carol Frawley has been at God’s doorstep before. “In his eyes, I’m already his,” says Carol who was a year away from making her final vows in another congregation before she discovered the Sisters of Bon Secours.
“I just felt like I wasn’t being fed,” explains Carol who spent five years in formation with another congregation before she became a chaplain assistant in ministry at the Bon Secours Maria Manor Nursing Home in St. Petersburg, Florida. At that time, she had been doing parish outreach as an assistant director of a program for indigent people.
“But when I met and learned more about the Sisters of Bon Secours, their mission and values, I fell in love,” says Carol. “It just matched what I was looking for. They were taking care of the dying and that’s where I wanted to be; working with the dying and those hurting in any way.”
Carol decided to switch gears and begin the year-long discernment process with the Sisters of Bon Secours, then a year of pre-candidacy. In 2004, she was accepted as a candidate and in August 2005, she entered the Sisters of Bon Secours Novitiate.
Finally following her call
She says she sensed all her life that she had a call to religious life, but was unable to pursue it.
“There was an inner desire to be with community and to live this life,” says Carol, explaining her calling. “I wouldn’t settle until I followed it. There’s a yearning that has to be answered and in answering it, you start to feel whole.” She adds, “Having other sisters on the journey who understand the “call” and how I feel has been very helpful to me.”
“The world is hurting and this is why the Lord allows us to share our gifts with others,” says Carol.
“I love this life. It’s very fulfilling. Just knowing I have sisters out there supporting me through prayer and who understand the desire within me to serve the Lord in this way is very gratifying. It’s not giving up anything, it’s coming to wholeness. That’s true for everybody if they’re in the right vocation, whether that be married life, single life, or religious life.”
Sister Carol took her first vows as a Religious Sister of Bon Secours on November 4, 2007.