It’s Thank a Nun Day (May 5)! This social media campaign was started to show appreciation for the amazing women who have given their all in service to Christ and His Church. My “thank you” today is for a very singular sister, who gave me the gift of friendship and, more importantly, of faith.
On a shelf above my bed, there’s a little poster, covered in floral stickers and cheerful bible verses, a gift for my tenth birthday from my closest childhood friend. Ours was an odd friendship, and probably didn’t make much sense to anyone besides us. I was a chatty and active child, always wearing sparkles and bright colors. She was almost seventy years older than me, moved very slow, and her outfit never changed from the solemn black habit and veil of the Benedictine order. But my friendship with Sister Margaret Mary truly defined my young life, and helped me have a foundation in faith that lasts to this day.
We met when I was about four years old. She went to my parish for Mass on Sunday mornings every other week or so, and from the first time I saw her, I was utterly entranced. I had never seen a nun outside of a picture in a book before. Our first conversation comprised of me walking up to her and asking why she had hair- my book about St. Clare had shown the saint cutting all her hair off to become a nun, so I naturally assumed all nuns were as bald as eggs under their veils. Sr. Margaret Mary, her soft, gray curls peeping out from under her veil, had laughed and explained that nuns are allowed to grow hair as long as it wasn’t too noticeable.
From then on, I would track her down after Mass to ask about her life as a sister. Before long, I was sitting with her during Mass itself, and she would quietly explain what the Bible stories meant, who the Eucharist really was, and why we prayed the prayers we did. She loved the Mass and the Eucharist (which makes sense, as a Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration!) and that love inspired me to feel the same. Some of my earliest memories of Mass include the two of us, sharing a hymnal, praising God together.
When I learned how to write, I would write her weekly letters about the small happenings in my life. Her letters in reply were all on handmade paper, covered with stickers and little pictures of saints, and full of commentary on my problems and how prayer could help me overcome them. Sometimes, she’d also send me packets of blank, sticker-covered paper for my own use. She was at my first Holy Communion, and gave me a beautiful doll, dressed in the cutest little Benedictine habit.
Sadly, we lost touch when I was a teenager. My faith went through a shaky time, but it was Eucharistic Adoration that brought it back. I know that the many prayers of Sr. Margaret Mary are behind that. Her love of the Eucharist still inspires me today; she never had to really see Jesus to know He was there, listening to and loving her. She encouraged me to explore my faith and write about it, which directly led to me being the blogger I am. So, for this #ThankANunDay, I’m thanking Sr. Margaret Mary Bielinski and the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration for their example of holiness, persistence, and prayer.
How will you #ThankANun today? Sound off in the comments about a sister who has changed your life, or post your stories on your favorite social media site with the hashtag #ThankANunDay!