Reflections on Religious Life
By Josh Zeller, Communications intern
The spirit of mercy profoundly touches the lives of women religious, whom we are recognizing during National Catholic Sisters Week. S. Pat Wittberg, who celebrates her Golden Jubilee this year, feels that she is experiencing this goodness and compassion of God currently through research she is doing for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), which she moved back to Cincinnati to complete after retiring from a prominent teaching career at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.
“Right now, I am very, very, very lucky,” Sister relates. “God’s being very nice to me … because normally retiring and moving away from a city in which one lived for 25 years, and back to a city that I haven’t lived in since 1970, would be disruptive … In contrast, I’m having a ball!”
S. Pat’s research for CARA involves Millennial Catholics, and trying to bring them back to the Church. Her forward-thinking writings anticipate just one of the ways women religious will help raise awareness of the Church, and help to carry God’s mercy into the future. Personally, Sister believes the foundations of religious life rest on the fact that a conscientious person was “distressed by some difficulty in the People of God.” In going ahead, the conscientious action of Sisters across the nation will be more necessary than ever before.
“My understanding … is that Christianity and Jesus himself taught that his kingdom ‘was not of this world,’” says S. Pat. “And that means, basically, that there will always be poverty, injustice, environmental mess, whatever. We’re not going to have a perfect society, a perfect country … in this life.”
In reflecting on her religious life overall, Sister believes that it was God’s mercy that brought her and other Sisters to religious life. She says that there is an essential realization women and men religious alike have: “…you suddenly realize how much God loves you.” The goodness and compassion of God stems from the love of God, and it is fitting that we honor our nation’s Sisters, who channel this love into all that they do.