Preparing oneself for service to God involves a long journey of self-discovery, according to a vibrant young woman exploring life as a Sister of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
In the summer of 1999, after an intensive period of self-growth, Charlene Thacker made her first vows as a professed Sister in the Kingston, Ont., congregation.
Sr. Patricia Amyot notes that the Sisters of Providence perceive membership as a lifelong process, one of an ever-deepening response to the grace of their vocation. The early stages of that growth are particularly challenging.
“Women exploring their call to religious life are growing physically, emotionally and spiritually,” says Sister Patricia. “They have to balance prayer, exercise, rest and play — and work in a ministry that reflects their abilities.”
Sister Charlene Thacker, who made her first vows this summer, found her novitiate experience extremely rewarding. Charlene, 28, comes from the small town of Arnprior just west of Ottawa, Ont. She was in her final year of high school when she first considered life as a Sister of Providence and she stresses the gradual process of learning about the call to life as a religious.
“I was just drawn to something, I just wasn’t sure what it was until I talked to the Sisters,” says Charlene. “I still wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted until I really found out what they were like and what their mission was. Of course I was fascinated by God and what God was like. I’d like to spend the rest of my life trying to find that out.”
Charlene, a congenial woman with a keen interest in sports, has done a turn as guest goalie on the Roman Collars hockey team, a group of southeastern Ontario priests who see hockey games as an opportunity for vocation outreach. Her down-to-earth nature and her love of hockey help her connect with people, especially youth, who see her as a real person with a full life.
“The Sisters stress having a balance in your life,” she notes. “Being healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually is important.”
“It’s like a marriage,” adds Charlene, who is spending the next year studying to be a teacher. “It takes a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work.”