One Faith, Many Paths: Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery

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I’ve always wanted to interview a religious sister, and now I have my chance. Here’s my interview with Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery.

1. What was your childhood like? I came from a broken home and lived in poverty. There were constant trials and tragedies, yet I was surrounded by love, especially my holy grandparents who raised me and encouraged me by example to have faith and trust in God. I began working at a young age so I could have nicer clothes, take music lessons, etc. I excelled in everything I did thanks to the gifts of perseverance, grace, and old-fashioned hard work, resulting in full scholarships for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. What seemed to be all odds against me ended up being a huge blessing with all of the life tools I ended up with.

2. Are you a convert to Catholicism or were you a cradle Catholic? Convert from the Church of the Nazarene.

3. What is your favorite biblical passage and why? 2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” This is my favorite passage because the Lord has proven to me time and time again that His grace truly is sufficient and that my weaknesses are actually strengths in him.

4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Elijah.

5. How did you discern that you had a calling to be a Sister? I met a Sister in a post office one day. I had never seen one before and was intrigued as a fairly new Catholic. She spoke with me and invited me to their convent. After two weeks of declining invitations I finally went. Upon arrival, I felt a peace which surpassed my understanding and like I was “home”. From that time forth I went there as often as I could as a volunteer. One day my boyfriend of 5 years said to me, “Do you realize you spend more time with the Sisters now than you do me?” It was then I realized I might have a vocation.  I broke up with him, got a spiritual director, went on several “come and see” retreats and entered religious life after the Lord confirmed my calling with several signs.

6. Which order does your convent belong to and what makes it unique? We are Fransciscan. We are unique in that we live by faith–praying for provision, living in poverty without the securities of health insurance, regular income, etc. Prayer, praise, and evangelization are at the heart of our charism and ministry.  While home, we are quite contemplative, living on an 840-acre ranch called “Prayer Town”. For ministry, we go all over the world doing short-term missions such as retreats, speaking at conferences, parish missions, youth events, and so forth. Then we return to contemplative life. It is a constant cycle of being filled then giving, just as St. Francis did. Praise is a way of life for us. We are charismatic.

7. What is the difference between a sister and a nun? A nun is fully cloistered and does not go from the convent, except with permission from a bishop. Sisters are those who are non-cloistered, which are most of us. Basically, if they are in public they are Sisters.

8. What are your duties as a nun? What service do you provide to your community outside of your convent? I am the Mission Advancement Director both inside and outside our convent. I am also head of our music department, overseeing and taking care of the instruments, books, training, and so forth. In addition, in the convent, I help keep the mission house I live in cleaned and maintained in my chore areas, help with cooking, yard work, and anything else regular people have to do when they own a house.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Sister Elizabeth Ann Dockery”

One Faith, Many Paths Special: Interview with…Me!

I’ve reached another milestone. This will be my 200th post. I’ve decided mark this occasion by presenting an interview with someone I will interview in the future and allowing him to ask the questions, rather than the other way around. I figured this would be a great way for new readers to know me better.

  1. You’ve been a Catholic all your life, and I know your faith is central to your life. Have there been times when you questioned? How did you handle that? I believe that if you go through your life as a Christian without once doubting yourself, then you are spiritually blind.  Yes, I’ve doubted. When I learned about all the atrocities that are often linked to Christianity, I doubted whether I should consider myself part of it. What kept me in the faith was that I reminded myself that I only have my own actions to ask for, not anyone else’s. God knows my heart. I also read up on the saints. When I saw all they did for the glory of God, I wanted to be a part of that.
  2. Your autism is another part of you. When did you first realize you were different–even special in terms of those around you? I think it first happened in high school. When I finally became mainstreamed, I never experienced a desire to wear a mask and pretend I was something I wasn’t. Then in college, my counselor told me and my mother that she thought I had Asperger’s. At first, It never really clicked. But my mother insisted that I do research on the disorder, if only to explain it to others. It was that research that opened me to the possibility that it was a gift. It also made me realize that God had possibly meant for me to spend all those years in Special Ed that I had spent for my bad behavior, especially my temper.
  3. A follow-up to that–what do you think is the biggest misconception about Autism and Autistic people? I think there are two. The first is that it is something that can be removed or outgrown. While it is true that some autistics can “pass” for being neurotypical, that doesn’t mean we’ve outgrown autism. It just means we’ve adjusted to what society expects of us. The second is that we don’t have emotions. I think this is often perceived because we often express our emotions differently from those not on the spectrum. In fact, there has been research that has concluded that our emotions and those of our peers can often overwhelm us, perhaps more easily than those not on the spectrum.
  4. What are some of your favorite hobbies and what do you enjoy about them? I am an avid reader, especially of science fiction. I think what’s best about it is that it allows me to escape from the pressures of this world. It allows me to unwind when I experience a world that is different from my own.
  5. How would you define your life philosophy–to put it more simply, do you have a personal motto? My motto is to always try to find the good in everything. I’m not always living by this principle, but I’ve learned there is good in everything that happens. If I focus on that, it helps me not to fall into despair.
  6. Favorite Books? I’d have to say the writings of CS Lewis, primarily. Not just his fiction, but also his non-fiction. His non-fiction is so simplistic. He doesn’t rely on purple prose or empty words. He explains everything about Christianity as simply as he can. He’s often been discredited because he’s not a theologian, but I don’t think that should dismiss him. I’d have to say his best book that isn’t connected to Narnia would be Mere Christianity. It’s a great bare-bones approach to Christianity, and I always recommend it to anyone who wants to know where to start with his non-fiction. Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths Special: Interview with…Me!”

One Faith, Many Paths: Nathan Joseph Sitton Marchand

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This is an interview with a very good and very funny Facebook friend and a fellow blogger! Thank you for taking the time to fill out these questions, Nathan.

1. Tell me about your childhood and family.
I’m the oldest of four kids. I have two brothers and a sister. My parents are wonderful people, but they’re quite “normal” compared to most of their kids. My sister is the closest to “normal” out of all of us. I’m a crazy creative type. One of my brothers has mild autism and is a brilliant artist.That sometimes led to some conflict, but they’ve been mostly supportive. I was homeschooled starting
 in first grade because public school kindergarten was horrendous. My teacher hated me. I’d get my work done first and get bored, so I’d try to talk to the kid next to me. Instead of giving me more work to do like a good teacher should do, she made me stand in the corner. Eventually, I was given my own little desk separate from the class. She never told my parents about my “problem” until the end of the school year. Mom took me out and started homeschooling me at a time when that wasn’t popular. I can’t thank her enough.
2. What evidence can you give for God’s existence?
 Look at the stars. The universe is vast, complex, and breathtaking. It couldn’t have happened by accident. Matter is not eternal. It had a Creator. The more non-Christian scientists try to move away from Intelligent Design and Creationism, the wackier they sound (and they call Christians the crazy ones!) 😛 I also like C.S. Lewis’ argument in Mere Christianity about how murder has been universally condemned by all cultures in history, indicating evidence of a God-given morality.
3. What is your favorite biblical verse and why?
I have several: Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 22:37-39, and Ecclesiastes 3:11. The first because I love the imagery (eagles are a favorite animal of mine); the second because it summarizes the entire Christian faith in a few sentences; and the third because it shows that all humans have an inkling of the Truth, that they know how things were and should be, even if they can’t explain it. It testifies to the image of God we bear.
4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?
That changes from time to time. I like several for different reasons, but currently it’s Job. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind to God and dare to question him. He also put the smackdown on his so-called friends for spewing well-meaning but inaccurate philosophies at him. I find that my faith is much like his.
5. Tell me about your blog.
A: It’s only a “blog” in the sense that it’s a WordPress site. Regardless, I use it to promote my books, writings, and videos, and to connect with my readers/fans. I post news updates, unpublished short stories, and musings on writing and creativity. I also have a Youtube Vlog called “But I Digress”.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Nathan Joseph Sitton Marchand”