Call to Religious Life: Sr. Sheila Langton, SP

A favourite question people have for a Sister is, “Why did you become a nun?” For many years I would go blank when anyone asked me that. I didn’t know how to answer.

It is a mystery to me. How did such an ordinary and very young person as I was, know that I had a vocation to religious life? I would ask myself, “Why am I so sure this is my way of life?”

I should tell you that another favourite question for a Sister is, “How long have you been a nun?” On March 19, 2013, it will be exactly 52 years since I made final vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. The passage of time has given me a better understanding as I look back over my journey in life to this point.

Very definitely any vocation is a call. We don’t usually hear a real voice calling us, but the call comes in other forms. My call to religious life came through three channels. The first would be through the influence of my family, and in a particular way, my grandmother. When I was in elementary school, I went once a week for lunch with my grandmother. Grandma Langton would prepare all the things I liked to eat, and that was a highlight. Everything would be delicately and tastefully set out for me. My grandmother made me feel very special. After lunch we would sit together and talk about many things. There was always some spiritual sharing. My grandmother would talk about her love for Jesus and all she knew about his life and example on earth. We would talk about the Gospel stories. Somehow, I learned from my grandmother how to pray – to praise and thank God, to ask forgiveness and to ask for help. Jesus became real for me through my beloved grandmother’s deep faith which she shared.

Then came high school when decisions about the future had to be made. I was very attracted to the Sisters of Providence who taught me at what was then St. Michael’s High School in Belleville. What really appealed to me was their happiness. I knew that they had made personal sacrifices when they had taken the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They worked hard with few resources, to impart a good education to us in that simple little school. But their obvious joy and contentment was attractive and caused me to question whether I should follow their example and enter religious life.

As the story goes, I did decide to at least try this way of life. I was sure that our loving God would let me know soon if this was right or not for me.

It was during my studies in the training period known as the “novitiate” that I again gradually felt a strong attraction. This time it was to the special “charism” of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. I learned that these Sisters were gifted with compassionate care for God’s people, especially the most destitute, the poorest, the most needy, the most vulnerable. They served others in a spirit of humility, simplicity and charity and they always relied on the Providence of God.

I taught 24 years mostly with high school students and for the last 27 years I have worked in health care administration and on Catholic healthcare Boards as a representative of the sponsors.

Our Lord Jesus, during His life on earth, spent His time teaching and healing the sick. I have been privileged, through my vow of obedience, to be involved in the teaching and healing ministries of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul serving with compassion, trusting in Providence and walking in hope.