Sr Jean CHN tells us how she first experienced her call to be a nun:
I was only in my early teens when the thought first came to me that I was called to be a nun and I dismissed it as nonsense. I had never met any nuns, but I did know there were Anglican Religious Communities. The nag did not go away, and at times of decision making made itself felt and was duly ignored as I followed my chosen path of studying History at University and then deciding what to do with it.
The crunch point came in my final year, when I had to decide where next? I said to myself “If that is what God is asking of me, then I am giving up on God” and did. For 6 months I didn’t go to church, or pray or attend any of the religious activities in the University, and gradually convinced myself I had grown out of religion. Anyone who asked why I just said I was working hard for finals!
Finals came – and went, and I had decided to stay on for the 4th year and study for an Education Diploma or PGCE That was the crunch year- from the start. Within six weeks I realised that this persistent call to the Religious Life had to be faced and the best way to assure myself it was not for me was to make an effort and meet some nuns, find out what they did do, and what they were like. Not difficult, I knew there were nuns who had a house near to an inner city church. I went to that church one Sunday, talked to one of the sisters and agreed to go and see them at the house that afternoon. I still remember noticing with appreciation that there were chocolate biscuits on the tea tray. Maybe life wasn’t unbearably austere!
I didn’t talk about joining them, I needed first to sort out and restore my relationship with God – and what I did believe. That took some weeks, and on a later visit to the sisters’ house I asked what I had to do to find out if this persistent call was valid or true. Only one way – visit the Convent. A few weeks later I was on a bus from Birmingham to Malvern, and walking up the road to the Convent of the Holy Name – still hoping the Superior would say “ It may be a vocation, but you need more experience of life outside of school and university. Get a job and come back after a few years if the call persists” She didn’t – she said “My dear I do think you have a vocation, when does your course finish?” My heart went down to my boots, yet at the same time having seen more of the life and of the sisters maybe it was right, something was falling into place.
I left with a suggested date to “enter” as they call it, and perhaps relief I was no longer fighting an unconquerable adversary. Here I still am , and hopefully fairly normal!