A program inviting Iowa women to try out a year as a nun is drawing some interest. Sister Ramona Kaalberg is a member of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, an order with a house in the Quad Cities. The sisters have invited others to share their life, and try out the experience of being a nun, for a year. Sister Ramona says the visitation program is rather similar to a new nun’s first year in the congregation, filled with prayer, study, and work in the group’s ministries including pastoral care in hospitals and affordable housing services for the poor. They’re inviting women who are not considering the life of a nun as a permanent choice.They might be women who’ve just finished college and want to have this experience before they go out to begin a professional life. Kaalberg says others may be making a transition from one job to another, and want a break in their busy life. She says others may be retiring or finishing up raising their family, and instead of a break they want to do something else, like this. It’s a welcome to visitors, but Sister Ramona says this is not an effort to recruit new members to the small congregation. If participants do feel a call to join, the sisters will be open to the idea. For some it may seem like a sabbatical, though it won’t be a vacation. They’ll be expected to do 20 hours of ministry work each week, compared with the 40 expected of permanent members of the community. Women who come to try the “visitation program” will share meals, prayers, music and the “family life” of the congregation as well as their ministry work, and their ongoing study and spiritual development.
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