The new ways



Sister Arlene McGowan, SFP                          alt

            60 Years

Entrance Date: July 2, 1951

First Profession: May 11, 1954

Perpetual Vows: September 8, 1959


The celebration of a Jubilee is as good a time as any to reflect back on the years, and the joys, of religious life. Certainly I lived through them all – and loved every one of them.

Religious life has changed dramatically during these years – and mostly for the good.  Of all the changes – and there were a lot! –

I have seen in my 60 years as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor, perhaps the most significant were engendered by Vatican II. And of those – and there were also many of them – the most significant was Vatican II’s insistence on the need for each person to develop a deep spirituality.  Among the changes in our lives occasioned specifically by Vatican II – was the freedom we were given to pursue our dreams about how to implement its directives! Perhaps the changes in our Congregation that were most important also had to do with freedom – we were given a lot more freedom, and also there was much less regimentation.

All this freedom, of course, called us to personal responsibility. This included, among other things, a willingness to try the new ways.

I was one of the people who modeled change in the habit. I did it gradually, first wearing a modified habit and so forth. Not only were there changes within, but there were also changes outside.

I worked for many years in our health care institutions – and perhaps the biggest change there for me was the move into administration. Earl Gilreath (CEO at Franciscan Mt Airy Hospital) tried for years before he finally convinced me to go into administration, and I was never sorry that I did. I was able to start so many things, create so many opportunities for people – it was wonderful.
While many sisters chose, or created their own new ministries, I did not. I have never chosen a ministry and I also have never been in one I did not love! However, at least for me, the most difficult adjustment was to vocation ministry. However, I learned to love that too because I had many chances to tell people about Mother Frances and St. Francis, and to talk about religious life.
My life as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor has been – and is – GREAT. The only piece of advice I would give anyone is this: Give it all you’ve got – and then some!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sister Arlene McGowan 

                                                                                                                                                                                                    published, december 2011

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