Meet Sister Kathleen Crowley
I was born and raised in Canada in a suburb of Montreal, Quebec. My thoughts of God other than going to Mass and religious services were not rampant in my life. I don’t know what my spiritual journey was during those years except for reflecting on the goodness of my parents and the values they held as part of being Catholic. Although I learned about God from my father, I learned about listening to others and not judging from my mother. I must say, however, that she did a much better job of not judging others than I do.
The path of a Nursing Ministry
During my three years of nursing education, I don’t believe that God was in my thoughts much until my third year when I had major surgery. It was during my recuperation that I began to have thoughts about religious life, thoughts that I carelessly discarded whenever they came into my mind. However, the Lord did not let me neglect them completely, and I eventually kept an appointment with a Benedictine monk from Conception whom was studying in Montreal. I knew that I didn’t want to join a Canadian order in Quebec as they were mostly French, so the idea of coming to the USA helped me to decide. There are two incidents during my nursing education that must have influenced me somewhat as I still carry the memories with me.
Being a nurse I saw many different patients, some of whom were judged because of their backgrounds. One was caring for a woman who had extensive pelvic cancer and despite surgery, her pelvic area was inflamed. Her illness was judged by most to be a result of her life style. For some reason I never looked on her that way and was able to care for her in a way that she also felt comfortable with me when I was working. Another incident that stays with me was when one of the nurses was raped while on a date. She knew who the man was as he was an orderly at the hospital. When I went to Mass one Sunday after the incident, he was at Mass and he went to communion. I began to think that no matter what he had done, God had forgiven him. God’s forgiveness began to take root in my life.
The Next Big Step
It was my final year in nursing and during the months after my surgery I began to realize that God was calling me to enter a religious community. My Benedictine priest friend talked to me about being Benedictine and about Sacred Heart Convent. (Later it was changed to a Monastery). After I received my RN, I contacted the Monastery and then entered in 1955.
When I arrived in Yankton the biggest surprise was how small a town it was, and there were not a lot of trees around at that time. It took me a while to adjust and although I was homesick, I realized eventually that this is where God wanted me to be.
Learning Benedictine Life
When I became Benedictine, I discovered a new sense of the spirit. Living the life of a Benedictine opened up the Scriptures to me as a way of searching for God on a daily basis. Slowly I began to recognize the Spirit within me and to recognize that the Spirit can come through me in my response to another and come through them to me. As the years went by, I allowed myself to learn and grow from my failures. I began to accept my mistakes. I also began to experience a God of love and forgiveness. Being a thinking person, (Myers Briggs) I have integrated this search on an intellectual level and then slowly and painfully, I continue to integrate it on a feeling level. I am learning to “come out of the attic” so to speak and live in the whole house. Carl Jung, a Swiss Psychiatrist, refers to this integration as individuation. In order to walk with someone through the pain of life, my own lived experience must show me the way. It is through my own experience of being wounded and being healed that I recognize another’s ability to be wounded and be healed. As many authors imply, there is a strong sense of mystery in becoming a person, a mystery that only the person can unfold for him/herself. It will only be when I am with another and see my woundedness as irrelevant that the woundedness will bring God. That is what brought me to counseling and eventually to Spiritual Direction.
In 1960, I became a United States citizen. The court scene as I renounced my origin gave me a sense of being wrenched from my family and uprooted from my country. This sense of being an outsider aligns me with the whole Exodus theme and to some extent stays with me.
My spirituality through life has grown and still has many paths to take. I pray that I can continue to be open to my growing edges as I become aware of them in my life.