Entering community life: two women's views
Vocation leads to Manitowoc
(See subsequent article by Sr. Lourdes Jaure)
By Rexann Hammons
Hello! I am Rexann Hammons -- a May 2001 graduate of Raleigh High School in Raleigh (a rural area called Sylvereanna), Miss., and, presently, a postulant at Holy Family Convent and a freshman at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc.
I was raised on a chicken farm where there are two houses of 18,000 chickens each. These plump, delicious fowl may be part of your evening dinners or a quick fast-food drive-through lunch!
Blessed with two loving parents, Rex and Joan Hammons, I am the baby of six children -- with 11 years difference between my next sibling and me. All of my brothers and sisters are married. My oldest brother, Chris and his wife, Robin, have four children, the newest baby born in September. Keith and Ken are identical twins: Keith and Sandy have three children, and Ken and Joanne have Missy, a little house puppy. Paula and Dewayne have two young girls. And Angie and Lynn, with their two children, live in Louisiana.
The rest of my family lives near my parents. Our mother graced each of us with strong faith.
You probably wonder how a farm girl from Mississippi got to Northern Wisconsin! My vocation story starts as a young girl growing up Catholic in the "Bible Belt" of Mississippi. As early as fourth grade, I remember explaining aspects of our Catholic beliefs to my classmates. As I grew in my faith, I took every opportunity to evangelize.
Living in a very Protestant area, it felt like I always had to defend the Faith. Nevertheless, as the time came for me to be confirmed, I wanted the choice to be Catholic to be mine. Through prayer, reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and asking God to reveal His Truths to me -- I found real peace and joyful satisfaction. I chose to be Catholic with all my heart!
At Church, I grew more and more aware of needs and services, and the Holy Spirit led me to become a catechist, the DRE in my parish of St. Paul, a Eucharistic minister, and a lector. I gradually began to feel called to do even more. I wanted to serve God and the Church! However, the thought of becoming a Sister was a little much! Just the same, as I continued to pray and discern, God had other plans!
I began my "vocation quest" by writing to Vocation Central, an apostolate of the Sacred Heart Fathers and Brothers in Hales Corners, Wis., that encourages and promotes vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The office personnel mailed my name and address to many different religious communities.
Among the letters from these communities of women religious, I received correspondence from the Sisters at Holy Family Convent in Manitowoc. In between the months of my junior year of high school, I went on a "Nun Run" sponsored by the Diocese of Jackson. This experience provided me with the further opportunity to actually visit sisters of various religious congregations and, eventually, I looked into some of these communities.
Meanwhile, the letters and information about the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity continued to inform me about the focus of their particular life and the influence of St. Francis of Assisi, and I found out that these same Sisters teach and minister at St. Francis Mission in Greenwood, Miss., along with the Franciscan Friars from Pulaski.
I began to visit the Sisters in Greenwood and became further acquainted with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity -- until, early in my senior year of high school, I had the privilege to visit at Holy Family Convent in Manitowoc. Immediately, I knew I would find no other place that could ever compare with this one! My next step would be to ask to enter the postulancy at Holy Family Convent!
I have been here now for five months. My interests are walking, reading, cooking and creative writing. I look forward to this second semester of classes at Silver Lake College -- along with a special religion class on spirituality and the on-going formation instructions from my Postulant Directress, Sr. Elora Schmidt, who guides me in what it means to become a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. I anticipate being accepted into the congregation as a novice this coming summer.