2012-04-30 Vatican RadioFrom Olympic speed skater to religious sister. That is the unusual career path of one American Franciscan sister who shared with us her story of how she came to discern her own religious vocation. It's an inspirational story that comes as the Church celebrates this weekend the World Day of Prayer for Religious Vocations. Susy Hodges spoke to Sister Catherine Holum to find out how and why she decided to ditch her glittering career as a world class speed skating champion and embraced a religious vocation instead.
Sister Catherine says her first inkling of discerning her religious vocation came during a pilgrimage at the age of 16 to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal: "I had a very powerful experience of hearing the Lord speak to me in prayer, calling me to be a sister." But as it happens Sister Catherine did not immediately take up that call and continued with her career as a skater which she says "really took off" after she had prayed to Our Lady on that occasion. "I felt it was God's grace that helped me to excel at that time."
She went on to explain how "the real turning point for her"came after she had graduated from college and met a group of pro-life young people doing a pilgrimage across America that ended with them attending the World Youth Day gathering in Toronto.
Asked about what she felt were the greatest sacrifices of being a religious sister, Sister Catherine said "the hardest part for me was leaving my family and my friends" but added that the rewards were many: "My heart is fulfilled completely in this vocation" and.... "nothing is wasted from our past life."
As a former athlete, she believes that "sports have so much to teach us about the faith and I've learnt some great life lessons: discipline, hard work, sacrifice, setting goals for yourself, working as a team. All these things, she says, "are important in our faith."
Listen to the full interview by Susy Hodges with Sister Catherine Holum: