Sr Miriam’s Vocation Story
‘Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him . . . .’ Deut 30.19
From as far back as I can remember the possibility of religious life, in some form, was part of my horizon. I was brought up in the North East, in Sunderland, and educated at primary and secondary level by the Sisters of Mercy. I have happy memories of school where I was as keen to learn my catechism answers as my tables. The Sisters of Mercy were both firm and loving and taught me to give of my whole self in whatever I was asked to do.
Faith was important in my family and I approached the milestones of First Communion and Confirmation well prepared and eager to give of my best. As my schooling progressed, I naturally veered towards Humanities subjects and I began to discover the power of the written word in literature and Scripture. The opportunity to study Scripture at A level fed my increasing desire to know and follow Christ.
Following A levels, I took a place at the Jesuit College, Heythrop, where I studied theology. This was a testing time for my faith, as my traditional understanding of scripture and Church life were challenged. I think I can I say that I emerged with a sense of there being a ‘broader picture’ and the importance, for me, of a theology and spirituality that are incarnational. Living in London also broadened my horizons and gave me the opportunity for a range of experiences from chaplaincy life to sung Mass at Westminster Cathedral and from HCPT pilgrimages to Lourdes to following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius in daily life. In my three years in London I also came across many apostolic religious communities and enjoyed spending time in prayer and conversation in their communities. I began to sense that I was looking for something, but I wasn’t quite sure what.
After graduating, I took a teaching job in a primary school in West London and found that school and parish life deepened my sense of the communal aspect of my faith. While I was both challenged and fulfilled in school and parish, I was still searching for something more. I began an M.A. in Religion and Education thinking that this might satisfy my searching. However, it was a chance visit to Turvey Abbey during a half-term holiday that marked a new direction in my search. At Turvey I experienced the rhythm of the monastic day and listened with new heart to the poetry of the Psalms. Here I saw a group of women living an ancient tradition with creativity and faithfulness.
In 1994 I entered Turvey and made my Final Profession in September 2000. On the day of my Profession the chapel was filled with family and friends who had shared my journey and truly enabled me to ‘choose life.’