CANTON Sister Mary Ishmael of the Eucharist grew up in Bankston, Iowa, just seven miles from what would become the "Field of Dreams."
Growing up in that idyllic Midwestern community, she did all the things she was expected to do. A devout Catholic, she married at 20, became a mother of three, and enjoyed a career as a registered nurse.
But life rarely goes according to plan. After 12 years of marriage, her husband sought a divorce, leaving her to raise their three sons as a single mother and the first member of her family to be divorced.
For 35 years, she devoted herself to nursing; then, she said, God informed her that he had another plan in mind.
HEARD THE WORDS
Sister Ishmael said she was engaged in adoration of the Eucharist in 2001 when, "I heard the words, ‘I want you to be my bride.’ There was a definite (prompting) from the Holy Spirit that½ God was calling me to be his bride. My immediate ‘yes’ was a surprise."
…At 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sister Ishmael, 55, will undertake her solemn profession as a member of the Order of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at the Sancta Clara Monastery Church at 4200 Market Ave. N.
…Sister Ishmael describes her feelings about her decision as a "deep and abiding" joy.
"I had a full life. I was happy with what I was doing," she said. "When God gives the call, he also gives that exuberant joy that makes you want to follow him.
"I am so deeply joyful. The Lord has given me a lot of joy this past year. … I’m coming to know the beauty of the Lord and the depth of his beauty."
Sister Ishmael said that prior to seeking a religious order, Clares, she consulted with a spiritual adviser. Her adviser recommended that she seek a monastery that emphasizes Eucharistic adoration, wears habits and is unified with the pope.
"I asked him to pray for me. For 10 years, I had never said anything to him about being a nun," she said with a smile. "Six months later, I was here.
…beacons of light
Sister Ishmael said the flip side of an article given to her on the Holy Trinity, bore the name and phone number of a nun who recommended that she contact Sancta Clara Monastery.
"God led me to the Poor Clares," she said, noting that many religious orders don’t take middle-aged women.
Upon arriving at a religious order, a woman undergoes several steps to make certain her decision is right, not only for her, but for the order. They include aspirant, postulancy, novitiate, or "junior professed" and the final profession.
"In the church, we (monastics) are called to be the beacons of light in the heart of the Church," Sister Ishmael said. "It is an environment that fosters love. It can’t be contained, it reaches out. It draws people to the church."
Sister Ishmael said each step taken in a faith journey should be accompanied by prayer for spiritual direction.
"Trust in God," she said. "He is never outdone. He will always give you more than you’re expecting."
I just love reading stories like this one.
Though I could totally do without reading stories like this one.