Monday, January 27, 2014

Sexuality and Consecrated Celibacy - A Match Made in Heaven!

Our ICN group for the sexuality workshop which included: the
Alexian Brothers, Daughters of Charity, Dominicans, OMI's,
Sisters of Mercy, Franciscans and Sister of Charity (of Cincinnati).
As I look back of our chronicle on this year, I am amazed to see that my sisters and I have yet to mention an integral part of our week: ICN!!!  When I shared this information with them, they were all equally amused.  See, ICN stands for “Inter Community Novitiate,” and it takes up at least one full day of our week.  My sisters, directors, and I gather on Wednesdays with approximately 20 other novices (plus their directors) from the St. Louis region for workshops on religious life.  We are blessed to have access to notable presenters, like Ron Rolhieser, OMI and Anthony Gittins, CSSp.  Past ICN topics include: transitions, discernment, the culture of religious life, communication tools, intercultural living, and centering prayer.  This week we were graced with the presence and knowledge of Lynn Levo, CSJ for a four day talk on Psycho-Sexuality.

…I know.  My first reaction was, “WHAT are we going to talk about for four days?!”  And I have to admit, I strolled into our first meeting with the Salt N' Peppa standard, "Let's Talk About Sex, Baby..." in my head.  Lynn started out her presentation with a discussion about sexuality...thus setting the context for the following four days.

I hear your thoughts! “Wait - what do YOU need to know about sexuality?!  You’re planning to take a vow of celibacy!”  I think this is a frequent question that stems from a common misunderstood definition of sexuality.  Sexuality is not limited to having sex any more than the vow of consecrated celibacy is not limited to not having sex.  Sexuality is the creative energies with which we were born, compelling us to connect with others and generate life (again...not limited to procreation).  We are whole, integrated beings, both body and spirit (and if I’m not mistaken - St. Dominic had a thing or two to say about that!), expressing our desire to love and be loved, to know and be known.

I had a 5th grader recently ask me, “Why can’t you get married?”  At the time I was in the middle of reading Sandra Schneider’s tome on religious life.  I responded, “When you get married you are creating an exclusive community.  While that is great, I want a larger community.  So, my church, this school, you are all my community…”  Looking back, I was on the right track, but my response would change slightly. I was gifted with a new revelation about the vows this week.  As religious women and Dominicans, we are called to generate life within the context of the vow of consecrated celibacy.  Not life as a married couple would create, (e.g. a baby, a family, a generation) but life stemming from the deep relationship with Christ and others that is generative and renewing.  We are called to bring that life to all the relationships in which we participate and out to the missions and communities where we minister. 

Celebrating New Year 2014 with my sisters, Peruvian style!  
A story to illustrate my point.  While I was in Springfield over Christmas break, I had the privilege of interviewing some sisters about the history of the community.  One of our sisters from Peru shared her story with me.  Long after our interview was finished, and I had turned off the camera, she began telling me about the hardships of nursing in the rural mountains.  As the story unfolded, I regretted not having the camera on.  She explained that, in the rural village where she was missioned, families often needed transportation to the hospital in the city, far away.  As a service to the town, she would routinely drive people to their appointments or clinics as needed.  She told me about one family whose child was born premature.  They couldn’t afford access to an incubator (in Peru, healthcare is only offered if you have enough money to get in the door).  My sister told them that she would do what she could, and tied the baby against her chest under her blouse, which provided a natural incubator, allowing the mother to rest, and her to continue on with work.  She finished the story by saying, “In this way, I was a spiritual mother to some of the children of the town.”  What a beautiful example of the generative life that came from her vow of consecrated celibacy!

This week I was offered deep and beautiful revelations about my own sexuality.  And we were challenged with a question: how am I going to bring life each day?


  1. Very happy that you had the chance to have Lynn Levo, CSJ for these days. Sounds like they were very fruitful and will help you to bring life to others as you deepen your own gift of life. Sr Loyola, OP

  2. Great reflection, Katy.
    I am glad you had the opportunity to hear Lynn.
    I hope this second half of your canonical year is life-giving for you!
    Charlene Moser, OP

  3. Loved your reflection, Katy! Also glad to learn that you had a opportunity to hear Lynn Levo. Blessings as you continue your journey!

    Patricia Mood, OP

  4. Thank you, Katy, for sharing a deep and beautiful reflection on human sexuality and the vow of consecrated celibacy. Wonderful that all of you have had the opportunity to hear Lynn Levo's presentation. Another gift of the CDN experience!
    Journeying with you in the Spirit,
    Theodora, OP

  5. Blessings and thank you for your wonderful reflection, Kathy. Such an important question for all of us to ask daily: How am I going to bring life TODAY? Know you are in heart and prayer as you continue your Dominican journey!
    Michelle Sherliza, OP - Dominican Sisters of Peace - Watertown, MA

  6. Really enjoyed your reflection, Katy. I, too, want to ask myself "How am I going to bring life today?" I am so glad you and the other novices had an opportunity to reflect on the deeper meaning of celibacy.
    Therese Leckert, OP

  7. this is such a pertinent topic in a culture "over-sexed" and looking for love in all th wrong places as a great Country-Western song goes. You called me to think again and be more intentional on the loving and being loved. Gemma

  8. Beautifully shared, Katy. I am reminded that it is so important that these deep learnings at the CDN don't get lost later in the business of ministry and life. Your sharing helps bring it to the forefront of my reflections and remembering this treasure in the vow of celibacy. Blessings to you, Linda Sue Noe, OP, Springfield

  9. Thanks Katy for your beautiful reflection on giving life through the life giving spirit of Jesus within us. And thanks too, for sharing Sister Betty's experiences of fostering life and spiritual motherhood.