Cloistered Stereotypes

Cloistered nuns are real, everyday people like you and me. Before I met the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (AKA Pink Sisters. Check out their habits: I had many misconceptions of cloistered nuns. I thought they would walk around with their hands folded, always in contemplation, and smiling sweetly, with a stare that looks like they’re reading your soul. They would never talk or raise their voice. They would all be introverts and would go around being super holy. They would spend every second of their day in prayer on their knees in the chapel. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but what would you even talk to them about? There’s no way they could be normal, everyday people, I thought.

I learned I was wrong. After meeting my first cloistered nuns, I realized they’re just like anyone else you may run into. They talk about the same sort of things you talk about at the dinner table. They aren’t some sort of odd-balls. They’re normal, but just in different clothes. There are actually lots of extroverts in the cloister, which is opposite of the common misconception. They are also a bundle of energy and a lot of fun.

During my visit with the Pink Sisters, I asked lots of questions. I still wasn’t sure If I was called to the cloister or not. I knew I would be willing to give up my worldly life if that’s what He wanted, but it didn’t seem to be a perfect fit with that community. When I left, one of the sisters must have noticed my hesitancy.  She told me I should look into Dominican cloistered life. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but look where I ended up!

The Adventure Continues

Next, I scheduled a two week ‘Come and See’ retreat with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order. A week or two before the scheduled retreat, my Grandpa Leatherby dropped off a book by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, active teaching Dominicans, about discerning religious life. When reading it, I thought their spirituality was me, although I didn’t want to teach. They had a Pre-aspirancy retreat coming up. They were able to include me on the retreat at the last minute, so I changed my flights to visit them instead of the Missionaries of Charity.

On the retreat, I realized that I definitely had a Dominican spirituality, but I yearned for a community with perpetual Eucharistic adoration. Halfway through the retreat, seeing my struggles, Sr. Joseph Andrew, the vocation director, sent me to the Dominican cloistered nuns who were located 30 minutes away. I was on another fun, but crazy, adventure to a monastery that I didn’t even have time to Google—random sisters I had never heard of. To hear how it ended up, read my vocation story in my monastery’s quarterly newsletter Echoes by clicking here.

© Jamie Leatherby 2018

Photo: Sr. Jamie’s monastery from the outside, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan