By Sister Mary Harvey, SSJ
The spark of a religious vocation came to me at an early age, perhaps eight or nine. I grew up in Vermont, on a large farm, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the seasons, the youngest of 12 children. My parents were devout Catholics with my mother a convert at the time of their marriage. Faith, family, parish and community anchored our lives. At Sunday Masses, recitation of the family rosary, Lenten Services and in daily life, I came to hear Christ’s call.
I attended a 2-room rural school from grades one through six. At home and in school I became smitten with the world of books and ideas. With no Catholic school in our town, each Saturday morning during the school year and in summer Bible School the Sisters of Mercy taught catechism in our parish. They imparted a broad view of the universal Church.
My mother was a staunch believer in education. She secured Catholic secondary and college education for her daughters, and indeed sought as much education as possible. I studied for two years at St. Peter School. And I remember my seventh grade teacher made learning fun. At recess she played basketball and baseball. I adapted well to the environment and academics and made friends. It was then that I first spoke to my mother about my vocation, asking if I could enter an out-of state-order at 13. She said to wait until after high school.
While attending high school, one of my sisters– the one closest to me in age - and I, were boarders at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, which was sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
I was active in many extra-curricular activities: drama, Latin Club, the National Honor Society, journalism and school newspaper editor, and recall a wonderful trip to Montreal with the French III class. I attended dances and the senior ball. Yet Christ’s call remained paramount. I felt called for a time to be a cloistered contemplative and read of St. Therese of Lisieux, who entered Carmel at 15. But it was the Sisters of St. Joseph that drew me, for it was in high school that I recognized their special spirit, joy, dedication and contemplation in the world.
After high school graduation, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. Following formative years in the religious and spiritual life, and the beginning of ongoing higher education, I began work in ministries. For 50 years I have taught students on the elementary, secondary and college levels. Gifted with an excellent education, I seek to share with my students.
My other ministries include journalism and photography for The Vermont Catholic Tribune in 1986-1998 and now for Mission, the publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, Mass., with whom the Rutland SSJ’s re-unified in 2001. I have served on congregational committees and on the Rutland SSJ’s leadership team.
Joyfully and gratefully, I walk the path of my vocation with Jesus into the future.