Hearing the Call : Sister Jennifer Miller
Here is a little bit about Sister Jennifer Miller and why she chose to enter the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana.
The desire to serve gnawed at me. The prospect of teaching seemed attractive. And the example of my high school teachers confirmed my need to test a religious vocation. Mater Dei was the backdrop for witnessing Sister Mary Walter’s belly laugh, profiting from the Sisters’ availability to help with a math problem, an English concept or a personal dilemma, watching the Sisters laugh at the window as seniors played in the snow, and making decorations for the prom in the convent basement.
The Ferdinand Benedictines embodied the values I cherished. I remain a Sister today because humanity needs fidelity, and because everyday offers me clear opportunities to touch base with God. I rely on Mom’s prayerful encouragement, the example of sisters in community, and the invitation of people to relate to them as “sister.” Prayer, meals, work and the common life constitute paths that lead me to God.
Our daily prayer grounds me in life, much like roots “ground” a tree. Prayer lands me in the humble truth of my total reliance on God. Meal times offer a refreshing pause in the day, a breather during which to share perceptions and balance ideas by listening to the others.
The food is often sacramental. Working as a hospice chaplain is a coveted job. Just as parents love a newborn into life, so I get to love the dying into eternal life. Having journeyed close to the mystery and the goodness of God, the dying, with their expansive minds, their open hearts, their all-inclusive love and their words of gratitude, fill me with God’s light. Cenobitic living offers occasions for spontaneous walks, passionate discussions that send supper into evening prayer, and the sweat that comes from working in the yard.
It is in the daily routine that I hear God’s call: to help bring in the groceries, to empty the dishwasher, to peel apples, to clean the bathroom. It is an invitation to hospitality and humility as I wait my turn to do laundry or take a shower. It is by being on call to patients and their families that God’s summons to stay connected is heard.
Being a Ferdinand Benedictine means making a positive difference in the lives of people in southwest Indiana. It means being an example of living in relative harmony. It means a commitment to daily prayer, to monastic values and to working to build up the Body of Christ.
As I look to the future, I believe Sisters from smaller monasteries will rely on our hospitality, looking for a place of belonging. I think neighbors will seek us out, looking for a peaceful respite. I hope women who seek God will sense the Divine among us and connect with us. I trust that at some point in the future the community will either feel secure enough or be ready to risk enough that Sisters may retire before health requires it: not retire to pasture but to pursue a talent in art or science or to fulfill a dream like gathering volunteers to make a little corner of the world a better and happier place.