What does it mean when we are called to Religious Life? We become evermore disposed, by God’s grace, to do what is needed. Here is one of, I hope, many stories of my ‘Sisters in Action’. Enjoy!
— Introducing: Sister Elisa:
As she walks across the parking lot at St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln on a steamy afternoon in mid-September, Sister Elisa Grignoli steps with quiet conviction. About 45 third graders will be arriving for the first 90-minute religious education class of the year. The students are preparing to receive first Eucharist in the spring of 2011. She wants them to take their faith seriously at a young age.
Youngsters and parents file in and “70-something” Sister Elisa is there with a smile and a hug for each child. “Welcome back,” she says. “We’ve missed you.”
What most of the kids know about Sister Elisa is she’s quite a “no-nonsense” nun. She doesn’t like excuses for not coming to class every week, inquiries about early dismissal for sports practice, or seeing disrespect for fellow students. What they likely don’t know is that Sister Elisa, who speaks English, Italian, Cantonese and some Spanish, traveled a circuitous route to arrive at her current ministry as director of religious education. From serving as a missionary and nurse in Hong Kong for 20 years to ministering as a hospital chaplain in Vancouver, British Columbia, she’s responded to whatever mission she’s been called to in religious life.
Passing on the faith isn’t always easy, Sister Elisa says, but it’s a neverending and heartfelt task. “I always remember and try to live the words my mother said long ago in Italy: ‘You do what you can, as much as you can. Everybody is necessary, but nobody is indispensable.’ We do what we can with the best intentions, with the love of God and everything in our ability.”