Sr Rosemary’s Vocation Story
When I was young I fancied myself as a missionary in Africa but in my teens we went abroad on holiday and I soon discovered that I wilted in hot weather so that that put paid to that idea.
When I was seventeen a priest friend asked me to accompany himself and another girl to a convent in York which she was thinking of entering. I thought a weekend in York sounded rather nice and readily agreed. It was only when we were headed out of York on a country road that I asked where we were going. When they told me it was an enclosed Carmelite monastery I was horrified and said “Stop! Let me out, I’ll go to York and catch the train home.”
The nuns were very nice but I kept telling my friend that they must be mad to lock themselves up and she couldn’t possibly join them!!! She didn’t – but God got his own back on me!
I did a Chemistry degree and at the end of the course everyone was running a computer program which told you what jobs you were suited to. When I did it, the first choice was ‘Minister of Religion’! I was appalled, what would I tell my friends? I quickly changed my input and managed to relegate Minister of Religion to third place and my friends teased me that I would be the first woman priest!
While I taught Chemistry for two years I knew there was something else I should be doing but didn’t know what it was. So I wrote to the vocations Sisters in London; their response was to send me a big pack of leaflets on every conceivable Religious Order! I went through the leaflets cringing at most of them and threw them in the bin but when I saw one on the Carmelites I kept it back because I wanted to see what they actually got up to in their enclosed monastery. Well, that leaflet stayed on my desk and for some reason I didn’t throw it away.
I went to stay with Mother Teresa’s Sisters in London for 10 days that summer and was stunned by their work with the homeless, especially when I went on the ‘Soup run’. However, I realized I couldn’t cope with that type of life, much as I admired them!
Eventually I phoned the Carmelites in York and the Prioress invited me to stay for the weekend. It was a nice weekend and I felt a pull towards the monastery but I was very reluctant to admit it. She invited me to come inside and live with them for a fortnight in the summer holidays so I agreed. I still wasn’t sure until my brother kept on at me that I couldn’t possibly join them and out of sheer defiance I said I would. Soon later, after a tough day at school, I went to evening Mass and suddenly my mood lifted and the thought came to me ‘I’m going to become a Carmelite’ and I was flooded with peace. So here I am;...30 years later - must be the “Chemistry”!