October 31, 2014

Religious Vocations Supplement

‘Consistent path of discernment’ leads Sister of Providence to vocation

By Jason Moon (Special to The Criterion)

Providence Sister Regina GalloSince she was a young child, Providence Sister Regina Gallo had the sense there was more to life than just getting up, breathing in and moving forward.

As she got older, Sister Regina continued to have these feelings, even though she had started down a “normal” path. She had a well-paying job she enjoyed, had just been promoted and was dating.

But eight years after graduating from high school, she began to feel something she had not felt since she was young: A call to religious life.

“When the thought of entering religious life entered my mind, I did all I could to dismiss that and push it under the carpet,” said Sister Regina, a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, whose motherhouse is in St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

“I was happily dating at the time, and my dream was always to get married and have children. I dismissed the thought for about six months, and after six continuous months of constant nagging, I finally decided to talk with someone about it.

“My feelings were part confusion: Why me? Why am I getting these feelings? This is not what I had planned for my life,” she continued. “The thought of closing the door on all that I dreamt was not only frightening, but painful.

“Things seemed to be going well … and then one morning I woke up to the smell of my neighbor cutting his grass—and boom—the literal and clearest words came into my head: ‘Regina, why don’t you think of becoming a sister?’ My response, literally, was, ‘Why don’t you just go away?’ Well, I guess we know who won on that end.”

Sister Regina admitted the feelings of a possible religious life scared her.

“What will my family think? Will I be supported and accepted? Will I be good enough? What would I or do I have to offer?” she said.

When Sister Regina was a young child, she felt a spiritual sense clinging to every fiber of her being, but she wasn’t sure how to react to it.

“I always knew and was consciously aware at such a young age that there was something so much bigger than me,” Sister Regina said.

Despite some reservations, Sister Regina met with Providence Sister Kay Manley, who helped her during four years of discernment.

Still, Sister Regina questioned the call and through the assistance of the Sisters of Providence’s vocation director, entered into therapy to make sure she wasn’t doing anything for the “wrong” reasons.

This counseling, along with the guidance given by Sister Kay and participation in vocations retreats, gave Sister Regina confidence that her motivations were good and helped her move down “a consistent path of discernment.”

Sister Regina said she did look at other communities, but her relationship with the Sisters of Providence ran deep. She attended Guérin College Preparatory High School in River Grove, Ill., where several Sisters of Providence taught.

“I looked into several different communities, or as I referred to it: I ‘order shopped,’” Sister Regina said. “I looked at about eight different communities.

“I did not find within those other communities the connection that I felt with the Sisters of Providence,” Sister Regina said. “They were all wonderful communities, but there was a lack of connection or something that pulled me away from them and pushed me toward the Sisters of Providence.”

After finally confirming her belief to join the Sisters of Providence on Sept. 13, 2001, Sister Regina said she felt “relief.”

“It was a long, tough four years of discerning,” she said. “I also honestly felt a peace that I never felt before. I can’t quite describe it, but it was really a cleansing feeling, as if something washed right over me. I do believe I had the nerves and ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, but that would be normal for any major life choice.”

Sister Regina professed perpetual vows on June 26, 2011.

“I feel we all continue to discern,” she said. “That never ends once we enter community. We, and I, are continuously listening to and sifting through how and where the spirit is calling us in life and our ministry.”

(Jason Moon is the media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in St. Mary-of-the-Woods. For more information on the Sisters of Providence, log on to www.spsmw.org.)

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