Have You Ever Thought of Being a Religious Sister
Pictured above: Sister Agnes Thérèse Davis, T.O.R, ( left) and Sister Rita Clare Yoches, T.O.R., perform at a prayer concert in Detroit.
Meet Sister Agnes Thérèse Davis, T.O.R.
By Simcha Fisher
In this series, Parable travels the Diocese of Manchester to profile a priest from each region and a male and female religious. Sister Agnes Thérèse, T.O.R., is a Keene native who made her perpetual profession of vows in 2017 with the Franciscan Sisters in Toronto, Ohio. Parable will profile a priest from the Souhegan deanery in an upcoming issue. The region includes Nashua, the state’s second largest city, and surrounding communities near the Massachusetts border.
Sister Agnes Thérèse Davis, 32, remembers being in college at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and going straight from the chapel to a date with a boy named Tim.
“I remember thinking Jesus was so much more real than Tim was. Tim was great, but he was never going to be able to compete with Jesus,” she said.
Sister Agnes Thérèse, T.O.R., a Keene native, spent seven years discerning her vocation with the Franciscan Sisters in Toronto, Ohio. She made her perpetual profession of vows in 2017.
When did you first hear the call to become a Catholic sister?
I knew I had to pray, not just sit in the chapel and read holy books. Just forcing myself to be in silence. I remembered God is a person who loved me. He’s not a checklist I need to complete or a rulebook in the sky I needed to appease. I realized I should be asking him what to do with my life. I noticed a growing desire to give him my whole life, to be free to live for him in everything.
How did people respond when you talked about being a religious sister?
A lot of people felt like I was wasting my life. I heard: “Why would you take yourself out of the human equation? You have so much to offer. Why hide it in a convent?”
What are the greatest challenges of being a sister?
The same as the hardest parts of being in a family: being with other people, learning how to love the family God gives you, to make space for the others while being yourself.
For example, being a natural leader in the context of a religious community with a vow of obedience. You have to learn how to respect the systems that are in place, while being ready to give voice to your own ideas or questions or inspirations, and then be ready to lay those down.
What is the most rewarding?
Belonging to God. Being able to be so free to do whatever he asks. To be free to serve people directly, whether teaching postulants, or doing a parish mission, or meeting with people in spiritual direction. How wonderful it is to be able to fill the little gaps that society leaves.
All the vows free you. I don’t have stuff. I don’t have my own family that I have a primary responsibility toward. I don’t have a career I need to develop. I don’t have to worry about that.
What advice do you have for those contemplating a religious vocation today?
Making time for prayers every day. And if you’re not of an age to be actively discerning religious life, don’t live as though you were. If you’re in high school, be in high school. Go to dances, watch movies with your friends. Dedicate yourself to the life you have, instead of the life you might be called to eventually. You thwart your human development by taking on burdens you’re not ready for.