Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston is celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), an annual celebration from March 8 - 14, 2016 to honor women religious and to raise awareness of women vocations. For many young women today, the idea of becoming a sister is not even a notion. We hope by sharing the stories of our religious colleagues that we might inspire others to this rewarding path. With that, we are honored to share the vocation story of Sr. Laurie MacDonald, Assistant Program Director of our Childcare Center at our Yawkey Center, Haitian Multi-Cultural Center on Columbia Road in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Laurie grew up in a small town outside of Schenectady, New York with her parents and sister. After high school, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Laurie had a great aunt in the family who was a Maryknoll Sister, but, as a high school graduate, this was just a faint thought. She began to work full-time and over the years, took on a number of positions in different industries, but something was still missing.
The idea of her great aunt’s vocation gradually came to mind. Laurie wrote a letter to the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul, an international religious community serving the “poorest of the poor” through education, health care and social services, to see if this community might be what was missing in her life. After meeting with Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul, she decided it wasn’t for her, but she didn’t give up hope. She wrote to three more religious communities. The third one caught her attention, the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, with simplicity and joy, a community dedicated to serving the poor and empowering those who are neglected or oppressed.
Meeting members of this community, Laurie felt at ease. After sharing this with her family, her mother shared that when she was a teenager that the Sisters of the Atonement taught her religious education. Feeling more comfortable, she volunteered at Graymoor, the mother house for the order, located in Garrison, New York. Sr. Laurie shared of her experience, “I felt so at home and so comfortable. I realized that I felt that whatever used to be missing was no longer.”
A New Life
Sr. Laurie’s life has been rich in experiences and opportunities. In her early years as a sister, she worked in Canada; Burlington, Vermont; Boston, Mass., New York, NY; before heading back to Boston. She worked in diverse roles from dorm mother for neglected children to religious teacher and comforter of the elderly to child care center professional and administrator.
Through it all, she discovered her true calling: working with children in need. Thanks to her community, she not only gained valuable work experience, but also obtained her bachelor and master’s degree. Today, she serves proudly as the Assistant Program Director for Catholic Charities in Dorchester and has enjoyed tenure of nearly 20 years with us.
If Sr. Laurie had to give advice to young women today considering a vocation, she said that they should see and experience firsthand what a religious community is like as she did as a volunteer at Graymoor. She also feels strongly that her pursuit of different jobs prior to becoming a sister was invaluable to her decision making.
Thank you Sr. Laurie for being a part of the Catholic Charities family and serving all those you meet with simplicity, kindness and joy.