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My Search
theblindnun
Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for not writing in so long. My family just moved a little over two weeks ago and we have not had Internet.
In this entry, I will be talking about my search for a community. I started searching about four years ago. I was quite disappointed and saddened in the beginning as many communities didn't even want to have much to do with me once they heard I am blind. Some communities have very legitimate reasons for this and they truly would be more difficult for a blind person to enter, such as medical mission communities. However, I feel the vast majority have this reason for not allowing anyone with any sort of disability to be considered: Many communities perform some sort of social service activity/activities. I think it is most likely that the only disabled people they have seen or come in contact with have needed their help in one way or another, and they feel it would be the same if anyone with a disabillity joined their community; they feel they will be having to take time to help this person that "needs to be spent on helping those truly in need", if you get my meaning. Please don't take this as a snide remark in any way; it is most definitely not meant to be such. However, I am saddened that many people feel this way and therefore do not even give us a chance to prove them wrong. I do not believe Jesus or the Blessed Mother would even want to try and stop anyone from doing what they feel called to do, no matter their circumstances in life.
In my search, I tried a few vocations websites. I can't remember all of them, but I'll put the two I do know.
The first
vocationsplacement.org
didn't seem to be extremely supportive to me in my search. The director did try what she thought she could, I belive, but I don't really think she let the communities themselves decide as much as she picked and chose what she herself thought would work best. I do not fault her for this, after all, it goes along with the mentallity our society has for the most part, which I talked about above.
The second, which I found much more helpful as it allows anyone to be as precise in choosing what they want in a community as they wish at the time as well as giving anyone the chance to explain about themselves, is
vocationmatch.com
Anyone can fill out the match with the specifications they want. After filling the forms in on the wbsite, a list of communities who match will be presented to that person and he/she can choose which communities to send the profile to.
My experience with this website was much better and much more helpful for me as it gave me a chance to communicate with communities directly instead of having to go through a third party. This gave me the chance to show the community what I had to offer them beyond just seeing my blindness first. I got a much better response than I had before.
I will now share with you what I have found in the way of communities that will consider those with disabilities. There are a few communities who make it known that they widely accept those with disabilities. One of them is the Congregation of the Sisters of the Lamb in Kentucky. This order does a variety of ministries from prayer to more active work in the outside community. Another is a community of Benedictines, the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified in Conecticut. This is a purely contemplative community, and I think it is on the smaller side. I didn't spend much time looking at these communities because I did not feel God was calling me to just go into a community "prepared" for me in this way. Again, I am not trying to down them in any way, it was just what I felt. I felt God was calling me to make some other pathways for opening doors for others by showing others that I do not have to bend to what others think of me simply because I am blind.
The type of community I received the best response from was the Benedictines. Many of these communities are quite large and have very diverse ministries, usually working with those outside the monastery. There are a few purely contemplative Benedictine monasteries as well. However, I was looking for a community that at least gave the option of a habit; many Benedictine communities dress in common clothing, which I believe can serve a very good purpose. I felt very called to the habit, though.
Some other communities that expressed interest in me were:
Sisters of Mercy
Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm (Germantown, New York)
The Order of the Divine and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Ohio)
Sisters of Providence
some Francciscan orders
Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Third order of Saint Francis (Stevens Point, Wisconsin)
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (Canton, Ohio)
Sisters of Saint Ursula (not Ursuline Sisters)
and a few others I cannot remember right now.
Some orders I've looked into either have other blind women looking into them or have blind sisters. The Benedictines at Saint Mary, Pensylvania, the Sisters of Saint Ursula, and I believe the Sisters of Mercy all have active blind sisters.
If you have any questions about my findings, please feel free to comment and I can get back to you.
In the Love of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
Jessica

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