Letting Her Go
A little more than a year ago, Oleander came to us and asked if we would allow her to enter a new school that was going to open in Pennsylvania. This particular school is an Aspirancy school run by the Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, the female arm of the IVE (Institute of the Incarnate Word). We told our thirteen year old we would not even consider sending her away to school.
Several months later she again came to us, armed with information about the school, and asked us if we would let her go. Wingnut told her that if she really wanted to go, she would have to make it happen. Knowing our girl was fairly shy and reserved, we thought putting the burden of entry on her would be the end of the Aspirancy. Embarrassingly, we completely underestimated the strength of will in her. Before we knew it, she had contacted the Mother Superior asking for information for an application. The school, being not yet opened, was not quite prepared to send out an application, but Mother Ephesus assured Oleander she would stay in contact with her as things got up and running. Mother's word wasn't completely enough for Oleander, she continued to call Mother from time to time, just to be sure she wasn't forgotten.
The long expected paperwork for application arrived. Oleander, of her own volition, secured all three letters of recommendation needed, including a letter from our parish priest vouching for the authenticity and strength of Oleander's Catholic faith. I know this part of the application process was not easy for our normally shy girl, but she didn't hesitate a second. She then kept on top of me, asking me daily if I had completed my parts of the application. I needed to obtain medical and dental records and releases, provide an official school transcript and grades, and fill out several forms. The girl was patiently persistent.
In June our family traveled to the convent and school in Pennsylvania for formal face-to-face interviews. Our family was welcomed, in charactaristic IVE style, with warm fondness and regard. Following the interviews, Oleander was measured for her uniforms, a clear indicator that her desire had been realized. On Saturday, this week, we will leave our precious fourteen year old at the convent boarding school to begin, what she hopes and God Willing, will be four years of discernment and formation, culminating in a vocation to religious life.
This has not been an easy decision for us to make and follow through on. We've prayed for guidance and we finally based our decision on the strength of the conviction of a fourteen year old. Crazy, I know. She has not been without voices of dissent among her family and friends. Many, many of our family and friends have been truly excited and supportive, and several have been lovingly concerned. We have appreciated both!
As Oleander begins her journey, we ask for prayers for her and prayers for a family that will immensely miss her quiet smile, her gift for never forgetting a name, and the beautiful faith she lived out in our home each day of her life.