From city official to Sister of St. Joseph

This is certainly a different kind of vocation story:

A former Portland City official took perpetual vows in November as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.

Sister Susan Francois, who reclaimed her faith during the late 1990s at St. Philip Neri Parish in Portland, was also a leading Catholic peace activist in Oregon during the run-up to the Iraq War.

“My heart is filled with peace and joy as I make this lifelong commitment to follow Jesus and serve God’s people in need,” Sister Susan told the group of Sisters, family and friends gathered at the congregation’s chapel on the shores of Lake Washington. “Confident of God’s faithful love, I join my heart and life with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace as we seek peace through justice for our broken world.”

Sister Susan, 39, professed final vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience and intends to continue combatting human trafficking, abuse of immigrants and other problems. She’s a staffer at the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Seattle and edits the organization’s journal.

“This is where I’m best able to use the gifts that God gave me, to best serve the world,” she told the Catholic Northwest Progress.

Born in Washington, D.C., Sister Susan attended Catholic elementary and high school in suburban Maryland. Finding the church irrelevant, she stopped practicing Catholicism at age 17. In 1994 she graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in political science and history and eventually began work as elections officer and management analyst for Portland city government.

During her off hours, she volunteered at soup kitchens and a homeless shelter, and for a child-abuse hotline. Still, she didn’t feel fulfilled. Then a friend invited her to a function at St. Philip Neri.

“I will never forget going into St. Philip’s that day and sitting in that pew and just feeling like I was at home,” she told the Progress. The next Sunday, she decided to go to Mass, some 10 years after leaving the church.

About a year after getting active at the parish, while walking along an Oregon beach, the thought of becoming a Sister hit her. “It seemed really insane and crazy,” she told the Progress. “I wasn’t ready for it.”

But things change.  Read the rest. And visit the good sister’s blog: “Musings of a Discerning Woman”

Bless her.  Ad multos annos!

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8 responses to “From city official to Sister of St. Joseph”

  1. If those are their habits, they are defunct. Get a job ladies and quit passing yourselves off as Catholic Religious!

  2. Matthew…

    I can appreciate your preference for religious who wear some form of habit. It’s one I share.

    But your comment is disrespectful, ignorant and insulting.

    Dcn. G.

  3. I taught with 2 nuns in a Catholic elementary school and their order didn’t wear a habit. However that did not diminish the respect they were given nor did it lessen their value to the school or the Church. Clothes do not make the person, IMO.

  4. It sounds like Sr. Susan had a hard journey to her final destination, but now has found what she was destined to do all along. She will be an asset to her chosen order and to the Church.

  5. Why did I know that the “h” word was going to come up in this conversation?! I was going to suggest that the first person to bring it up had to drink the spiked eggnog that’s still in the fridge from New Year’s Eve.
    We obsess about what religious sisters wear, and forget about what they are. I’ll admit that if I was going to be a nun, I probably would have chosen an order which wore some type of (probably modified) habit. But I didn’t become a nun. Unlike this lady I did not vow poverty, chastity, and obedience, and write a blank check to Christ with my life. Beside that reality, clothes are irrelevant. God bless Sister Susan.

  6. Thanks for posting the article! It certainly has been an amazing journey, filled with God’s grace (and at times sense of humor!). And really, the journey has only just begin.

    Blessings of Christ’s Peace,
    Sister Susan

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