By: David and Lynne Mason
In the summer of 1993, our family received a short invitation from a friend in Denver, CO. She said, “Denver, the Pope, BE THERE!” We were able to take our entire family (at that time) and actually hiked down to Cherry Creek Park for the final Mass of the World Youth Day gathering. Sarah (Sister Isabelle) requested a wooden cross that had been blessed by John Paul the Great. It was obvious that Sarah was touched by the experience as she wore that cross every day the following year as an 8th grader in public school. Then followed four busy years of Catholic High School where academics and athletics seemed to fill her life. Her father and I discussed colleges and majors with her (our first child) and looked towards a full future.
Sarah’s college selection was the Franciscan University of Steubenville and during her freshmen orientation a speaker stated that the students were there to discern their vocation. This concept was new to both David and I; and it was driven home a couple of years later when Sarah mentioned to me she was discerning whether she was called to marriage or the religious life. I kept that confidence in my heart alone, but it was made public between Sarah’s junior and senior year. She participated in “Crossroads,” a cross-country walk to promote the culture of life. The walk started in California, so first she made a retreat with the Carmelites at the Retreat House in Alhambra (invited by the Sisters she met in Steubenville).
I wasn’t completely surprised when Sarah told us about her decision to join the religious life, because of our mother – daughter conversations. However, I had many questions, and due to the suddenness for David, he felt like he was losing a daughter. One evening while discussing her vocation, David expressed feelings of grief to me and the Holy Spirit prompted me to say, “We don’t want to get between our daughter and God’s will for her life!” I was also led to an article in which a Bishop described how the love of a daughter with a vocation is given to hundreds of people in comparison to the relatively few she would love as a wife and mother. This was just what David needed to hear!
We grew even more comfortable with Sarah’s decision after meeting the Carmelite Sisters at their convent in Steubenville. They exuded peace and joy and we enjoyed our visit very much- these sisters were good company! Another Carmelite, St. Therese of Lisieux, had already touched our lives when her relics toured the U.S. in 1999. Our family knelt and prayed together about an important decision we had to make right next to her reliquary. We left that meeting with peaceful unity and an answer to our prayers.
Our daughter’s vocation to the Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles has blessed our family immensely and greatly enriched our journey of faith. All doubts and fears have long been laid aside as we’ve watched her mature in Christ’s love as a Carmelite Sister. Of course, every monthly telephone call is too short, but as Sister Isabelle reminds us, we’ll have Eternity together, God Willing!
Article originally appeared in Spring 2012 edition of Spirit of Carmel