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The Catholic New World
For one sister, God's call continues throughout life

By Kristin Peterson

Most vowed religious men and women have a vocation story-a story that explains why and how they decided to commit to a religious life.

Agnesian Sister Susan Seeby has two vocation stories. She entered the Felician Sisters in 1985 at the age of 30 and three years ago she began the process of transferring her vows to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes. The transferring of her vows will become official during an April 15 ceremony.

Seeby points out that she did not leave the Felician Sisters because of negative reasons. "The first thing that many people think is that there was something wrong with the other community," she said. "I began to realize that God was calling me to go in a different direction."

She heard about the Sisters of St. Agnes from a friend and was attracted to the congregation for several reasons. She appreciated the "deep love that the sisters have for one another." She could see that the sisters were like family to each other. She was also "amazed at the level of happiness" of all the sisters.

In addition, Seeby said, "the congregation is very focused on women's issues and how we are called to stand up for the rights of women and children in the world."

Seeby's vocation to religious life began to develop at an early age. As a child she would visit her two aunts who were religious sisters.

After graduating high school, Seeby traveled and worked in different jobs. She did not think much about a vocation at that point. When she was 25, Seeby became more active in her parish. "One day a sister from the parish asked me if I had ever considered being a sister," Seeby said. The seed was planted and she entered soon after.

It was important to Seeby for that sister to ask her that question. "Sometimes young people need someone to ask them," she said. "It's all about recognizing gifts in others and not being afraid to tell them."

For Seeby it was important that she stayed open to God's changing call in her life. "God continues to call us," she said. In Seeby's life she felt called to stay in religious life but to go in a different direction.

"I didn't just up and leave," she said. She had two chances to examine her vocation. "I have had two experiences, and I have been blessed in both of them," she said.

Seeby ministers as a teacher, which is something that she could also do as a lay person, but religious life and its close connection to God were important to her. "I need to have that relationship with God where Jesus is my primary focus," Seeby explained. "It would be crazy for me to live this life if the primary love of my life was not God."

Seeby has served as a high school teacher through both religious congregations. This is her first year teaching theology at Maria High School in Chicago.

Seeby earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education but she realized that she was called to teach high school students. Seeby also holds a certificate in spiritual direction and is able to apply this knowledge to her work with high school students.

"I help [the students] discover that call within themselves to form a relationship with God," she said. "They are on the verge of going off on their own, and they feel a real call to be grounded in that God relationship."

Although most of her students at Maria High School are not Catholic, Seeby has had several discussions with them about religious life. Many of the students have a curiosity about what religious life is really like.

"I have brought some students to the motherhouse and have encouraged them to think about a vocation to religious life," she said. "For a lot of them, [religious life] is not their focus right now. They are more interested in the dating scene, but I was too in high school. But you still plant that seed."


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