So I decided that I probably would not find my dream job, and became resigned to finding something–anything–that would contribute to the mission of our community, and would bring in a salary to help support our retired sisters. Bring it on! I searched the internet, looked at job postings online, scanned the want ads in the paper, and even went to a local job fair…where my spirits sank lower and lower as I cruised the tables (noticing all the much younger faces and stronger backs that were cruising with me). And I didn’t see anything that really appealed to me, though I did ask at the Sheriff’s table if he needed a member of a posse who could ride a horse.

A day or two later, Sister Sharon, our community leader, forwarded an announcement sent to her by another of our sisters, who had enclosed a note saying “this sounds like Michele.” It was an announcement about the availability of paid internships with UNANIMA, an NGO (non-governmental organization) that works in New York City with the United Nations on global justice issues, especially those involving women and children. UNANIMA is composed of 19 communities of women religious, including our community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. In the past they have focused on issues such as human trafficking, but recently have added an en emphasis on Earth issues, including (get this–chill down the spine!) global water issues and climate change.
I perked up at the keywords: women and children, Earth, water, climate change. As I sat there with the information in my hand, my heart literally started beating faster…my body was trying to tell me something! Now, as a woman religious, I made a vow of obedience, which people outside religiious life usually interpret to mean that I do everything my religious superior tells me to do. But our community recognizes that practices of good discernment include listening to the God Within: paying attention to likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, passions, and yes–rapidly beating hearts! In fact, our community founder, Saint Angela Merici, urged us to “above all, obey the counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit unceasingly sends into our hearts.” At that moment I felt really connected to that 16th Century wise woman…