This is the Vocation Story of Sr Francis Cosgrove, a Cabra Dominican Missionary Sister, living and working in South Africa. Sr Francis specialises in Spiritual Direction and gives guided Retreats to individuals.
I give thanks to God for the precious gift of a Vocation to the Religious Life and I marvel at the wonderful ways in which I have been guided along the way. I also give thanks for the many people who have encouraged me and supported me in it, for over 60 years; chief among them would be my family, extended family, friends, Dominican teachers and Community members.
I come from a very staunch Catholic family where the practice of our faith was second-nature. Most of my school life was spent in Sion Hill, a local Dominican School. I imbued the spirit of St Dominic from the Sisters who taught me, and was especially influenced by the example of their joyfulness, prayerfulness and kindness. No wonder, then, that as I progressed up the school and began to think about the future, I gradually became aware of a gentle urge to “be a nun”. All of this, of course, I kept to myself.
I spent the last three years of my school life in the boarding school, where we had more contact with the Sisters and could join them for Compline in the Chapel at night. During these years, too, we had many visits from Sisters of other Congregations looking for young people to join them. We also worked very hard for the annual Sale of work for the Missions, as well as for the Holy Childhood Association. God was at work, and the urge to find out more grew! This I did by praying to the Holy Spirit, going to Bookshops, picking up leaflets etc. The turning point for me was when a dear Sister, who had known me from the Junior School, asked me one night, “Anne, have you ever thought of becoming a nun?” My reply was, “No one has ever asked me!” I was 16 years old at the time. That for me was a sign from God that I was on the right path. And so the search continued for another year and a half.
Finally, in my last year at school, we had a visit from some Sisters working in South Africa. The whole School was assembled to hear them speak about their life and work there. I cannot remember what was said, but I do know that at a certain moment during their address to us, I knew that I was being called to be a Dominican in South Africa.
Six months later, I was being interviewed by Mother Reginald and other Sisters in Cabra, Dublin. In October 1952, I entered the Novitiate in Kerdiffstown and three years later, I arrived in Cape Town. Many changes have taken place since then, both in myself and in the country, but I know that the decision to answer the call of God was the best one I have ever made! It has brought me happiness and fulfilment.
As regards Ministry, I was a full-time teacher and cared for Boarders up until the early seventies when I was gradually led into a new Ministry of Spiritual Direction and Individually-Directed-Retreats. At first, this could only be part time, as I had other commitments. However, since 1992, it has been my main involvement in Pastoral Care. For the past fifteen years, I have run our Retreat Centre here in Springfield. It has been most enriching and life-giving experiences for me.
I pray that God will guide you as you search for His will for YOU.
Have YOU ever thought of becoming a Sister?
Sr Francis Cosgrove O.P