How does a boy-crazy teen become a Dominican sister?
How does a Dominican sister end up the mother of 9 children?
By God’s divine mercy and grace!
I was an ordinary American girl, blessed with a devout and loving Catholic family. So, it was only natural to visit convents as well as colleges my senior year of high school. I mean, I liked boys, but I loved God more.
Not really knowing what I wanted to do or what God was calling me to do, I attended the local community college. Then, I met the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. The sisters came from Nashville to teach at the all-girls Catholic high school in my hometown, and I fell in love with them, their black and white, flowing habit, their charism, their joy. I wanted to be like them!
After visiting the Motherhouse, I was sent home to pray about my vocation. I knew religious life would require sacrifice. I knew it meant leaving my family.
Despite all, I wanted, like St. Paul, “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share in his sufferings by being conformed to his death” (Phil 3:10). With zeal and peace in my heart, I wrote Mother and ask to be admitted into the convent.
For five years, I lived with the Nashville Dominicans. Upon receiving the habit, I chose the name Sr. Anne Joachim. After finishing my education, I taught 8th grade in Birmingham and 5th grade in Nashville.
Despite the challenges, I loved religious life, especially the prayer life. I was storing up many treasures in Heaven (cf. Mt 6:20), graces that I still draw upon to this day.
Yet, it was not God’s will that I stay. Before the renewal of my vows, through lots of prayers and with the help of Mother, I made the hardest decision I have ever made: to return home. It turned out that God had something more in mind for me.
I met my future husband not long after returning home. We were married three years later. Nine months after our wedding day, our first son was born. Nine months after his birth, I found out I was pregnant again. We had three children in three years and a day! God continued to bless us with seven more children. My last child, Thomas Gabriel, is already in heaven, where I hope all of us will one day join him. He is our family’s very own patron saint!
I homeschool my nine children until high school (I do not get paid enough to put up with teenage attitude 24/7). I have also been blessed to be an education coordinator of a Catholic Charities program for pregnant teens, a middle school social studies teacher, a Director of Religious Education at a church in Baltimore city, and now a youth minister at my home parish of St. Bartholomew’s.
God has been so good to me, and so patient. I wish to share with you what I have lived and learned, what I’ve read and reflected upon. My hope is that here you find inspiration and encouragement to become the saint God is calling you to be.
At my desk at St. Rose of Lima Academy in Birmingham, AL, where I taught 8th grade.
Visiting home, I took a paddle boat ride with my aunt and cousin on the Chesapeake Bay.
The kids pick out our new (used) van. We were able to down size from a 15 passenger to a 12 passenger van!
My husband teaches our youngest how to drive the tractor. God blessed us with a large home on four acres of land in the country.
It is not always easy to get a serious picture of all nine!
We love our family vacations at the beach!