In the Sisters of Charity who taught me in high school, I recognized a concern for the poor, a love for learning, and professional excellence. There are probably other subtle reasons why I chose to be the first of my five siblings to leave home and go to Mount Saint Vincent, NY, to embark on this wonderful journey of religious life. However, the closest I came to being “called by God” was a sustained inner sense that God was calling me to greatness, and that religious life might be the best way for me to go. The deep sense of call to the Sisters of Charity was a constant. Over the years, as I have prayed and tried to live a Gospel life, my friendship and identification with Jesus has grown stronger. In times when I have been unable to pray, I have leaned on people of faith to do that for me.
As a Sister of Charity, I dreamed about being a missionary, a teacher and a nurse. Today, I have an abundance of stories that have their inspiration from teaching little ones how to read, working with teens, being part of the development of base Christian communities in Chile, as well as providing health services in the mountains of Guatemala during what has been called, “the war years.”
Mission evolves continuously, and so the phrase that “the best is yet to come,” characterizes each of the ministry shifts that I have made. While on staff for five years at St. Francis Xavier Parish, I gained a new appreciation of the richness of liturgy and the rich contribution of women in liturgical ministries. Laity and staff worked together with the recognition that “we are the church.” I feel privileged to be a parishioner at Xavier because I see that the parish has sustained a sense of church that welcomes the poor, faces issues of injustice, inspires learning, promotes beauty and nourishment in worship, and above all, respects people.
Eight years in a leadership role in the Sisters of Charity made me keenly aware of the marvelous lives of Sisters and their eagerness to be of service for as long as possible. It has always given me delight to talk to young people about the unique invitation to love and service that Is integral to religious life.
In recent years, I have had a wonderful role as the “Mission” person in hospital, home care, and long term care with St. Vincent’s and currently with ArchCare. It is exciting work because it enables me to discover the loving heart of Jesus in residents, patients, families, and staff. I feel energized when I accompany people in the role of Spiritual Director or Retreat Director.
To sum it up, I am truly filled with hope and joy as a Sister of Charity!
—Sheila Brosnan, SC
Sr. Sheila serves as Vice-President –Mission Integration for ArchCare, the health care ministry of the Archdiocese of New York.