‘I have called you by your name, you are mine’

As a child, I was incredibly proud of the fact that I had been baptised with water that had come from the River Jordan; nothing to with my family, simply a coincidence.  I wasn’t born into a Catholic or even a church-going family but my baptism was my tangible link to Christ.

Fast forward 17 years and I decided I really had to find out more about what it meant to say: ‘I am a Christian.’ It was at this point that I had the first inkling that I was perhaps being called to give my whole life to God. It was not something that filled me with joy, rather the opposite…

I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church when I was 27, having been a committed Christian (Anglican) for the previous ten years.  During this time, the sense of call never disappeared although I put many obstacles in the way.  I became a primary school teacher and loved my work and my life.  I had to give God a chance to find a plan B or C before I would surrender to His plan A!

Becoming a Catholic was a necessary piece of the jigsaw to explore monastic life.  Soon after my reception, I visited Stanbrook Abbey.

I loved travelling and enjoyed life. I asked myself: ‘Why would I give it all up for a life lived within four walls, with no holidays and seemingly no prospect of making a difference.’ Equally, I didn’t think of myself as particularly devout or a good at praying!

During my three week aspirancy, I didn’t expect to fall in love with the life. The rhythm of the Benedictine day made complete sense and I felt like the jigsaw piece that had found the perfect fit.

Monastic life involves renunciation and there are many things we forgo, things we are told growing up in this crazy world that are essential.  Living in a community of all women has its challenges and  we feel the bite when we sacrifice many ‘good’ things in order to be faithful to this way of life.  Like any life, any Christian life, it has its challenges but it is a life that is permeated with joy, with Christ at the centre.  All that he created and called me to be is at the service of the community and so given back to God.


Sr Josephine Parkinson OSB