A photo of Sister Bernadette Reis, FSP

Sister Bernadette Reis, FSP

Rome, Italy


I realized how Jesus interacts with me—it’s when I’m able to be present. When I am able to leave my time schedule. When I am able to slow down, when I am able to see another person instead of being angry because I didn’t catch the bus. That I can give of myself and allow another person to gift themselves to me. That is when I experience God most closely. Just, out of the blue. No preparation whatsoever. It’s like God just reaches in and says, ‘Here I am!’

Daniel’s Reflection

When Sister Bernadette Reis was 13, she felt a voice from the depths of her soul telling her that the only way she was going to be happy in life was if she became a nun. It was January 31st, 1980, and it was the day her class watched the movie, “Song of Bernadette.” Afterwards, when she came home she had to steal her mother’s library card since the book Song of Bernadette was only in the adult section of the library. I am sure that was the last time she stole anything!

Sister Bernadette told me her family was always praying that one of their five children would choose a religious vocation but it was assumed it would be one of the four boys who would pursue the priesthood because her father was so looking forward to walking his one daughter down the aisle at her wedding. But it was her father who encouraged her to check out a number of communities of sisters at a religious vocation fair at her school, and she wrote to every community. Mary was her name at the time (she took the name Bernadette when she made her vows) and because she was so young, only one order wrote her back: The Daughters of St. Paul.

She moved from California to Boston to attend boarding school with the order and later joined religious life. Because of her age, it was 15 years before she would become a sister. When I met Sister Bernadette, she was living in Rome pursuing additional studies. Today, Sister Bernadette leads English language news for the Holy See Press Office.

I was struck by the deep sense that Sr. Bernadette is pure love, pure open heart, fully present. In her presence, I began to understand how some people feel called to serve God and to serve humanity... and that anything short of that would not work for them.

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