A Place to Pray: Our Lady of Grace Chapel, Michigan

Sr Miriam Fidelis is a Religious Sister of Mercy based in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, serving as parish Sister.

When did you first go there?

I had worked as a journalist in Catholic news in Washington DC and at the time I discerned I was in a secretarial position at a church office. While it was work that I loved and enjoyed, I knew God was calling me to give my whole life. When I was discerning my vocation with the Religious Sisters of Mercy after spending some time with them in Washington, DC. I attended a vocation weekend at our mother house. It was during that retreat when I was praying with the sisters that I first came across this chapel.

What was special about it?

On that retreat, I would be praying at Holy Hour with the sisters before the Blessed Sacrament. By God’s Grace, it was in that time I was able to recognise God was calling me to this community of sisters. This was where I was to be – not back at my work in my little life that I had carved out for myself. It was like an anchor sinking in. The chapel is where I recognised the reality of my call to religious life. I could see I needed to respond. Like the First Apostle I needed to leave my nets and follow the Lord. I was both happy and a bit afraid of the changes and the challenges that would be ahead, but I knew the Lord was trust worthy and I knew that I definitely needed to go forward.

What is special about the chapel?

Our liturgies there really are beautiful. We work together at our chanting and our singing. We have a daily choir practice. So, there’s a special love and effort that we put into the prayer in our liturgy in the chapel at the mother house.

Why is it prayerful?

It’s praying with the sisters there. It’s where we, as sisters, are formed day by day. We’re formed by common prayer life. It’s just a tremendous gift to have this chapel where we are formed together as a Religious Institute through our common prayer. It’s called our daily horarium of prayer with a morning prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer together. Then in each of our convents, that same horarium is lived out.

Your most memorable day?

The day I entered the novitiate is probably the most memorable day for me in the chapel. That’s when we receive our religious habit, our veil, and our religious name from our Superior General. I remember receiving my name that I had never imagined for my- self, but my name is Sr Miriam Fidelis, which is Mary the Woman of Faith. That was a very memorable day for me there.

Do you return there?

We mostly will all gather together there every summer with all the sisters. Before you make your perpetual vows, when you are in temporary vows, you’ll go back in the summer as well for a longer period of time. Once you’re perpetually professed, you’ll go back for two weeks. It’s a time of retreat, classes and praying in the chapel for the weeks together.

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