Meet the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph
In celebration of the 800th Dominican Jubilee, we've decided to add a new page to our website -- Meet the Sisters -- which will allow you to get know us a little better, and hopefully, more personally. We, the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, are currently made up of eleven members, and God willing, more will be added to our number in the future. Until then, we'll introduce you to our current Sisters one by one -- and also humbly ask that you continue to pray for our community, that God will continue to bless us with vocations, for as we well know, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Mt. 9:37-38).
Meet our new Prioress - Sr. Julie Marsh-Collis, O.P.!
I suppose I would call myself a “cradle” Catholic. As a typical teenager I left the Church since I wasn’t sure why I was going anyway! I attended C of E schools until secondary school, when I attended St. Anne’s Convent School in Southampton. A friend of mine at school invited me to her Youth Meeting on a Friday night at a Pentecostal Church in Northam. The couple who ran the group, Reg and Eileen, read out a scripture passage and then gave a talk about what life was like in Jesus’ time and how relevant the scripture was. For me, my faith was ignited. I attended the “hall”, as my father called it, for a couple of years and left when they told me I shouldn’t go out with my boyfriend since he wasn’t “saved”. Well, needless to say, I left as I wasn’t going to have someone tell me I couldn’t go out with him!
Years later, as a Girl Guide Leader to a Catholic Company, our Chaplain pointed out there were leaders who were not practicing their faith and so how could we expect the girls to practice theirs! That told me in no uncertain terms. I knew I wanted to belong to God and so I went through the RCIA system and returned to the Church. In 1988 I went to Zambia and South Africa with my aunt and saw religious serving people in very poor circumstances and this affected me deeply. I came home to my house, job and car and wondered what I was doing with my life. I handed in my notice at work and waited a year asking the Lord what I was to do. I worked with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna at Ashurst during some of that time and I began to realise that this was where God was calling me. I hesitated since it wasn’t what I had in mind but too much pointed me back to a religious life. I took the step of asking to join, thinking that they would not accept me since I am a bit of a tom boy but they did!! That was in September 1990 and then in February 1991 on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes I entered. AND I am still here!!
Sr. Michelle Hawkes, O.P.
It's hard to summarise in a few sentences the workings of God’s graces in my vocation. It's Mercy all the way!
I nursed at Southampton General hospital for almost 9 years before entering the community, aged 26, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11th February 1988. Many years previously, at a diocesan 20yrs+ day, I remember Mgr Vincent Harvey saying “pray to know your vocation in life, God may be calling you to be a priest or religious brother or sister”. "What a good idea!," I thought….well at least for others…. I didn't need to pray, I knew mine already…..to be a nurse, get married and have a family…..I didn't need to pray about it. After all you have to be holy to be a Nun and I was far from a saint!
A trip with the Portsmouth HCPT group to Lourdes in 1987 healed me of relying on my own plans. To my great surprise and joy, on our return journey from Lourdes, God reached out His invitation to me as I sat down, for a few quiet moments alone, at a picnic bench in a motorway service station car park somewhere just outside Dover! And I've not looked back since. He lead me to the Dominican Sisters and it’s with great joy and thankfulness to Our Lord and all of heaven, not least our Lady, St Joseph and St Bernadette and to my community, family and friends that I was able to celebrate this past September (2015), during The Year of Consecrated life on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, 25 years of Religious profession…of trusting in His loving mercy.
Sr. Maria Natella
As I was about to be baptised at the age of six Fr. MacDonald of Holy Family gently pushed my head back and stated, “You are about to become a child of God”. As I walked away from the font I silently said, “If you are my Father then speak to me”. From that moment God has guided me every day of my life.
Therefore, many years later, when looking in a mirror whilst trying on my wedding dress, I could not deny His voice speaking simultaneously in the depth of my mind and heart saying, ‘I want you to be a nun”.
I had only ever wanted to be a teacher, get married and have ten children. My response was to buy the dress and continue with the wedding preparations. My fiancée and I had decided to get engaged after midnight Mass and then get married on Easter Monday. I heard the same request every day leading to the wedding. Six weeks away from my wedding, after a day’s teaching, I borrowed the key to Holy Family Church. Locking myself in, so as not to be disturbed, I sat at the back and cried for two hours. I then said, “O.K. if you want me to be a nun you have to help me finish with ..... ”.
Later that evening I called off the wedding and the rest is history. God in His bountiful goodness continues to guide my footsteps, usually in ‘ways that are not my ways and thoughts that are not my thoughts’ (cf. Isaiah 55:8) but always right for me.