I recently had a chat with Sr Agnes Thérèse Davis. Sr. Agnes is a 32-year-old sister who is a member of the Franciscan Sisters, TOR, a contemplative-active religious community that was founded in 1988. Her order values mendicancy and itinerancy, and I knew next to nothing about them or how one comes to join the order. It was a joyful, fascinating conversation, and I thought you’d like to hear it. My questions are in bold.
When did you first hear the call to become a sister?
For me, thinking about religious life only began when I started praying more intentionally as an adult. Growing up, we were Missouri Synod Lutherans. When I became Catholic, I started living a sacramental life, and in a lot of ways lost my personal prayer life. In high school, all my religious energy was diverted toward proving to my protestant friends that it was okay I was Catholic.
Did your whole family convert?
We trickled in. My mom entered some years before; my brother entered the same year as I did, but a few months before. Then several years later, my dad. We’re still waiting on my sister. For me, it was mostly an intellectual conversion. I already loved God. After my mom became Catholic, she knew that I was a voracious reader and if she left things around, I would read them. She left things around that spoke about the history of Christianity.
Looking at the teaching on the Eucharist, I don’t see how you can get anything but the true presence from John 6. I was convinced in my mind, but I was really nervous. I was very close to my grandmother, who was very desolate when my mom entered the Church.
I was confirmed in the Lutheran church when I was 13. I knew it was provisional.
I knew I had to pray, not just sit in the chapel and read holy books. I had to be silent, and I would only get myself go in with scriptures and a journal. I can’t just read the Bible; even that can be a distraction. Just forcing myself to be in silence. I remembered God is a person who loved me. Not a checklist I need to complete or a rulebook in the sky I needed to appease. Remembering God was a person who loved me and had a vested interest in my life. I realised I should be asking him what to do with my life. I was in college by this point, and I thought, “I can’t just do whatever falls in my lap. I need to ask God what He wants.”
Image: Detail of photo courtesy of Sr. Agnes Therese