A Dutch nun is on a mission to encourage more young women to explore the religious life.
Sister Mirjam Hugens FSO has been appointed director for religious vocations in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.
It is the first time a diocese in Scotland has created the position.
She will join Father Andrew Garden, who is the new director for priestly vocations.
Sr Mirjam (pronounced ‘Miriam’) said: “Men thinking of the priesthood usually have someone they can go to But for women considering the religious life, they often don’t know where to turn.
“I’m happy that I will now be there for them.”
Sr Mirjam is a member of The Spiritual Family The Work, a community of consecrated life who arrived in Edinburgh in 2017.
She and Fr Garden today launched a new vocations campaign for the Archdiocese on the theme ‘Explore It’.
Fr Andrew, priest at St David’s in Dalkeith, said: “Praying for vocations, helping people to listen to God and giving people the courage to respond – that sums up our role.
“God never imposes his will on anybody so it’s about exploring and responding in freedom to his call.”
When asked by Archbishop Cushley to take up the role, Sr Mirjam gave an enthusiastic response.
“I said ‘sure!’. It’s something very dear to my heart so I’m looking forward to it.
“I was in my first year at university in the Netherlands when I prayed for help with my vocation. At first I could never talk to a priest about it because I thought he would certainly say ‘you have to enter the convent’ and I thought ‘no!’ (laughs).
“Gradually, it became clear that God was calling me to this way of life. I’m so grateful that I found my way and I hope others find their way, whatever they are called to.
“If they are called to marriage they should follow that path. Ultimately, it’s to find what God has in mind for them. They will find in their heart what the calling is. My job is to explore it and help them on their way because following his plan will make them happy.”
Fr Andrew said he feels “positive” about his appointment and added: “It will be challenging but I feel I can put my heart into it because I believe in it.”
“I want to help people. I struggled for some time with my own vocation, to have the courage to respond to it and a bit of help goes a long way. When I did eventually respond I discovered it was a very liberating thing.”
Pray for vocations!
Sr Mirjam and Fr Andrew believe a major part of their work is getting people to pray for vocations.
They have organised a monthly Mass for vocations and created prayer cards for parishioners across the Archdiocese.
It takes place on the first Monday of each month. Fr Garden said: “Without prayer we wouldn’t have any vocations. We’re encouraging people either to start praying or to continue persevering in prayer.
"On the front of the card we have the biblical phrase ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’.
"It encourages people to listen to the promptings of God’s Grace in their hearts, while on the back there is a specific prayer for vocations.”
Sr Mirjam added: “Please pick up a postcard when you see it in your parish and keep it handy so you can regularly say the prayer for vocations.”
- The first monthly Mass for vocations takes place at St Columba’s Church, 9 Upper Gray Street on Monday 4th November at 6:30pm.
- If you are based in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh and want to chat about the priesthood, contact Fr Andrew on 0131 663 4286, firstname.lastname@example.org. For the religious life, contact Sr Mirjam on 0131 623 8902.