While thousands of college students are basking in the sun on the beaches of Cancun and elsewhere, a dedicated group of young, Catholic women chose this special time to take part in a “Nun Run.” They are visiting a number of religious communities in order to learn something of their way of life as a help in their discernment as to whether God might be calling them to a life of service in the Church.
So, with backpacks and Bibles in their hands, six young college women ranging from freshmen to senior accompanied by their leader paid a weekend visit to St. Scholastica Monastery as part of their spring break. All were students from South Dakota State University in Brookings who came in a rented van driven by their FOCUS leader, Kathryn Houle, to visit three religious communities of women in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is a volunteer group of young Catholic missionaries who, in keeping with the goal of the New Evangelization, seek to introduce young men and women on college campuses, especially Catholics, to a relationship with God. The leaders themselves are young college graduates or students who have undergone training through the FOCUS ministry and are sent to any one of 83 colleges or universities in the United States who receive them for a two-year period.
Their methods include large group outreach with events and conferences, Bible study groups that aid students in understanding and applying Sacred Scripture to their everyday lives, and one-on-one mentoring with individual students. In addition to aiding young Catholics to practice their faith while students, the missionaries also train them to help lead the Church into the future. One of their significant contributions has been to encourage young men and women to consider a religious vocation.
The “Nun Run” is one of their methods of introducing women to various women’s religious communities. Beginning their trek “up north,” the women first visited the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, a new religious community of women in New Ulm, Minnesota, before heading to Duluth on Saturday, arriving in time for Evening Prayer with the Community. Sunday, the women attended Mass and prayer, had the opportunity to interact with the sisters, tour the grounds, pray in our Blessed Sacrament Chapel, learn something of Benedictine history, view the Community’s film “Sing a New Song,” ask questions, and relax – in their SD “Catholic Jacks” T-shirts – at a party with the Sisters Sunday evening.
Monday morning, following prayers and breakfast, the travelers headed for La Cross, Wisconsin to visit and pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were to stay at the House of Formation of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George before returning to Brookings where some had homework to prepare for classes next week.
Before their departure on Monday, the women received a special blessing in the gathering place of Chapel from Sister Lois, Prioress, and Community which concluded, fittingly, with the singing of “Our Lady Queen of Peace.” We wish these committed and generous women special blessing and guidance as they seek to follow God’s will in their lives and hope that we will see them again soon.