Sr Clare Chantal O’Shea

Vocation Story

'There have been times when I have asked myself: What is it all about?'

When did you first feel called to the priesthood or religious life?

I felt called at a young age. By the time I was 12 years old I knew I wanted to be a religious sister. I have always been aware that God was and is very much present in my life and has never left me. I grew up in a large Irish family which was full of love and fun.

Were your friends and family supportive of your call?

My parents had a very strong love and devotion to each other. They were always there for us, their seven children. When I think of my faith journey so many people were part of my story. There was always someone there at the right time and at the right place. It is really quite amazing when I think of them all now: family, friends, teachers, Sisters.   

There were times when I took the wrong path and lost my way; times of tears and pain and disappointment but looking back I can see now those situations helped me to grow in my faith and to choose yet again. When we follow the Lord, I don’t think the path is ever straight. We are seemingly taken over mountains through valleys up over the deserts and, of course, to fertile pastures. The scenery is always changing. At times there is sunshine at other times darkness but one must always remember Jesus is the unfailing light. 

My family and friends were, and have been, very supportive of my vocation. I have been very blessed in that way. They know I am here for them holding them all in my prayer. 

Did you have any doubts?

Yes, there have been times when I have asked myself: What is it all about?

Why am I here? Could I not be doing something more worthwhile with my life? Of course, there are cloudy days but I think the moments of doubts have strengthened my faith and my commitment to my vocation. It is good to question. Doubting and questioning are part of every way of life. They come and go - sometimes often in one’s life. They are opportunities to reflect yet again and for me a call to renew my commitment to the Lord who never revokes His choice. 

Have you been able to maintain the hobbies and interests you had before you became a priest or member of a religious community?

My hobbies were walking, drawing, gardening and I used to love cycling. I still walk and draw and garden etc. but no longer go for long bike rides!    

What brings you most joy as a priest or religious?

What brings me the most joy as a religious? I suppose I would say the fact that the Lord chose me and I had the grace to respond to that call. I have a very supportive community and this is a source of happiness for me. Each Sister is gift. We live in a place of beauty and this is so nurturing. We have an ancient woodland within the enclosure and I love spending time there. 

What would be your advice to someone trying to discern their vocation?

What advice would I give to someone discerning vocation?  Be not afraid rather be courageous and adventurous.  The journey will not always be easy but it will fulfill your deepest yearnings You will lose nothing but you will gain everything. Listen to your heart for it is there you will hear the Lord speaking to you. Trust in the Lord and he will raise you up on eagles’ wings.

Enjoy the journey!