Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

'A sign of the love of God': Why nuns wear religious habits

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes
A nun's personal reflection on what the habit means to her

As Pope Francis' year dedicated to consecrated life comes to a close, one nun shared her thoughts on the how her religious garb serves as a "visible sign" that God exists and loves every person.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Highlights

By Ann Schneible (CNA/EWTN News)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
5/9/2016 (6 years ago)

Published in Vocations

Keywords: Nun, vocations, habit, religious life, Pope Francis, Catholic

Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Though the official Year for Consecrated Life just concluded, it's actually "the beginning of helping people get reacquainted with religious life," said Sr. Mary Christa of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma.

She said that while there are those who have a general idea about religious sisters, there's still a degree of uncertainty on the part of many about what religious life looks like.

Right now, Sr. Mary Christa added, there's "confusion"  - over questions such as why some sisters wear habits and some don't - and her hope is that this year marks the start of "a fruitful understanding of religious life in the Church in its most authentic, visible witness."

The Year for Consecrated Life, which began Nov. 30, 2014, concluded Feb. 2 on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.


Sr. Mary Christa, who also runs U.S. bishops' visitor's office in Rome with several other Sisters of Mercy, called the habit of a religious sister an important part of being a witness.

"The religious habit should say a number of things, both to the sister herself, and to those who see her," she said, recounting how she is often approached by strangers asking for prayers, who automatically trust her on account of her appearance.

"The habit is a visible sign of the love of God," she said. "But it's also, I have found, a great responsibility and a reminder to me: the responsibility to be what I show that I am."

"It's a sign of the love of God and that this life is not all there is: that God exists and loves them," she said.

One of the distinguishing aspects of their habit - a dark veil and a simple, pale blue frock in the summer, and a darker color for the winter - is a simple black cross, overlaid by a smaller white cross, which is worn around the neck.

"The black of the cross represents the misery of mankind that we find in the world, and the white represents God's mercy, which we are called to bring into the world as Sisters of Mercy," explained Sr. Mary Michaela, who works at the visitor's office.

"There is a long tradition in religious life of wearing a habit as a visible sign that we are consecrated to God and to the service of the Church in a special way," she said. "It's also part of poverty," she added. "Our habit is simple, so we don't buy a big wardrobe."

FREE Learning Resources - Download Today - Printable PDF's

Living in Rome, Sr. Mary Michaela noted how she too is approached by people asking for prayers on account of her habit.

"When they see the habit, they realize that there is something particular about our life," she said.

"They recognize that we represent, in some way, God's presence. We remind people of God's presence here in the world."

First established in Ireland in 1831 by venerable Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy centered their work on education, catechesis, healthcare. Spreading to the United States, the order was re-founded in 1973 in Alma, Michigan, where its motherhouse is currently located.

In addition to the three vows taken by all religious sisters, the Sisters of Mercy take a fourth vow of service to the poor, sick, and ignorant.

In Rome, the Sisters of Mercy offer orientation to U.S. Pilgrims - obtaining tickets for papal events, answering their questions about the city, and helping them with the pilgrimage aspect of their visit.

"This is one of the apostolic works that we do as a community," said Sr. Regina Marie, speaking on her work at the visitor's office.


Pilgrims "can come here and learn about the faith," she said. "We will often have a priest that will come at a certain time for a half hour and give catechesis for anyone who wants to. We have catechetical materials out for the pilgrims, (or) even just a place for them to sit down for a few minutes."

"Our charism is the mercy of God," she said. "Our apostolates are usually focused around the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which can manifest themselves in many ways." 

Sr. Anna Marie, another sister at the office, adds that "the consecrated life is a sign of his presence on earth."

"We live our vows so that when people see us, they think of God, and they think of Jesus, and they think of the Church. That's a tremendous privilege."

On how people will often ask her about her life as a religious, Sr. Anna Marie said she is excited to answer their questions.

"It's a gift not only for me, but a gift for the whole Church and for the world," she said.

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2021 - Distributed by Catholic Online

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Crowd at BBQ with Montana Ranch and Cattle meat As a big thank you for your service to our Church, Montana Ranch and Cattle offers you a special discount. Enjoy 25% off ‘The Greatest Meat on Earth’.

By the Grace of God, with the help of Montana Ranch and Cattle, Catholic Online School has become one of the fastest-growing, online K-Adult schools in the world. The school now has over 915,000 student enrollments from 193 countries. Click to Save 25% Now >

To all our readers,

Please don't scroll past this. We interrupt your reading to humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online School's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they look the other way. If you are an exceptional reader who has already donated, we sincerely thank you. If you donate just $10.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online School could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online School is useful. If Catholic Online School has given you $10.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the world that access to Catholic education matters to you. Thank you.

Help Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!