A Day in the Life – S. Whitney Schieltz
By Megan Simmermeyer, Communications co-op
National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 5-11, 2017) celebrates religious vocations across the country, and encourages everyone to reflect on the vocation they are called to pursue. The “Day in the Life” series explores the varied ministries of five Sisters in Formation and offers detailed accounts of what these Sisters do on a daily basis. Each woman featured in the series has answered the call to be a Sister of Charity, and each has a story to share.
For Canonical Novice Whitney Schieltz, there isn’t a typical day—rather, it’s more of a typical week. “Since the purpose of the Canonical Novitiate is to learn more about religious life, the Sisters of Charity, and my relationship with God,” S. Whitney says, “I take classes and participate in small discussion groups on these and other subjects.” The variety in her week gives greater depth and time to reflect on her understanding of the Sisters of Charity Community and her role as a woman religious.
However, S. Whitney notes that every day begins the same—with communal prayer at 6:30 a.m. She and the five Sisters she lives with take turns leading the morning prayers, which consist of Scripture readings, Psalms, hymns, and/or silent reflection. The daily session lasts about 30 minutes. But after morning prayers, the Sisters part ways, and S. Whitney’s lessons commence.
On Mondays, S. Whitney begins her day with Scripture classes. This portion of her day lasts from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and is taught by a Franciscan Sister of the Poor at the St. Clare Campus in northern Cincinnati. Though she is the only participant in the Novitiate program for this year, S. Whitney is joined by two Sisters of Charity Associates who accepted the invitation to join her as classmates. After class, the afternoons are fairly open, allowing for personal prayer and reflection, reading, and other activities, such as visiting Sisters at Mother Margaret Hall.
The following day, Tuesday, S. Whitney participates in volunteer ministry. From about 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., she travels to South Cumminsville to volunteer with Working In Neighborhoods (WIN). There, she helps with a variety of projects in housing and community development, as well as office tasks.
For S. Whitney, Wednesdays and Thursdays are spent primarily at the Motherhouse. She serves as a Eucharistic Minister at 8 a.m. Mass, following which she meets with her Novice Director and participates in classes/discussions led by various Sisters. During these discussions, she learns more about life as a Sister, as well as the Congregation’s charism, mission, and history.
After classes, S. Whitney enjoys lunch with her fellow Sisters at the Motherhouse, where they often continue discussing what she learned during her morning lessons. When she departs the Motherhouse dining hall, S. Whitney’s afternoons are fairly open for leisure, and often during her evenings on these days, she seeks events around Cincinnati that she, along with fellow Sisters, can attend. They enjoy going to fundraisers, educational films series, and speakers on social justice issues, to name a few.
On Friday, S. Whitney participates in what she refers to as a “Sabbath day.” She utilizes this day as one of solitude, prayer, and reflection. Depending on how the spirit moves her, S. Whitney might spend this day at home, the Motherhouse grounds, or a park, where she “can focus on deepening [her] relationship with God and developing [her] understanding of the call to religious life.”
At the end of every day, S. Whitney returns to her home at the Novitiate house, where she shares dinner with her Community members. “Like morning prayers, we all take turns cooking and cleaning up,” she says. “After the meal, we might watch a television show or movie together, enjoy a game of cards, or just spend the time on our own, reading or catching up on studies and work.”
With such a variety of classes and volunteer and learning opportunities, S. Whitney’s first year as a Novice has been one of activity and learning. She says, “What I enjoy most about my Canonical Novitiate is listening to other Sisters share about the joys and challenges that they have experienced in religious life.” She finds their stories inspiring and offering seeds of encouragement for her “to trust, to rejoice, and to be grateful.” For S. Whitney, the Sisters serve as living examples of Gospel values, and she looks forward to becoming more engrained within their Community.