WATCH: Celebrating the Consecrated Life

Religious brothers and sisters from across the Archdiocese joined together with Archbishop Cushley in Edinburgh to mark World Day of Consecrated Life. Watch the video below or on YouTube.

If you are interested in exploring the Religious Life contact our Director of Religious Vocations Sr Mirjam Hugens FSO at

Helping women say YES to God

Scotland has one of the lowest rates of women entering religious life in the world. Ahead of World Day of Consecrated Life (Thursday 2 February), Sr Mirjam Hugens FSO explains why she is determined to change that...

I was studying engineering at the University in Wageningen in the Netherlands when the thought of becoming a religious sister came to me.

At that time, I could not picture myself as a nun so I dismissed it.

When the thoughts kept returning, I kept saying ‘no’!

I wasn’t convinced that this desire in my heart was actually God’s voice. Was it really His invitation to follow Him more closely? Despite dismissing these thoughts, they remained with me. It was a quiet desire.

The big issue for me was this: could the religious life be something I could commit to for the rest of my life? Like so many people, men and women alike, I struggled to discover God’s will.

My older sister Karin had already decided to follow God’s call to religious life. I was happy for her, but I still kept saying ‘no’ to the Lord.

One day she gave me a prayer card of St Thérèse of Lisieux and I still remember the French saint’s words: “Aimer c’est tout donner et se donner soi-même [“To give everything (to the Lord) and to give oneself”].

I have the privilege of helping young women discover what their vocation is, through prayer and gentle encouragement, just like my parish priest gave to me.

That really made me think. I knew that while I was ready to give everything to the Lord, I was not quite ready to fully give myself! My journey discerning a religious vocation raised questions and doubts, but eventually led me to joyful discovery.

How did I start? I prayed more. I asked the Lord to show me His plan for me.

In the beginning, I did not want to share these thoughts with anyone.

But I realised I could not figure this out on my own—I needed support. I spoke to my parish priest and he became my spiritual director.

Through regular meetings he helped me discover where the desires of my heart were. Most importantly, he encouraged me to trust the Lord.

The result? I am happy in my vocation as a religious sister! I’m based at St Columba’s in Edinburgh and work in the curia for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. I was asked by Archbishop Leo Cushley to become the director of religious vocations in 2019.

That means I have the privilege of helping young women discover what their vocation is, through prayer and gentle encouragement, just like my parish priest gave to me.

Begin with prayer. Then have a conversation with someone you trust for advice. God sends us His help; we need to look for it.

God calls women to follow him in different ways. It may be in the sacrament of marriage, in the single life or as a religious sister. Whatever the vocation, I help young women say ‘yes!’ to God.

The fact that there are few religious sisters in Scotland now can be a barrier: There aren’t as many examples with which young women can identify. It also shows how great the need is.

The Church here needs religious sisters desperately.

My tips? Begin with prayer. Then have a conversation with someone you trust for advice. God sends us His help; we need to look for it.

I’m starting a group in Edinburgh in January for young women to explore how they can discover God’s will more deeply. Our starting point is this: God has a plan of love and happiness for each person.

It is a unique plan for you and where you will find fulfilling happiness. The foundress of our religious order (The Spiritual Family The Work), Mother Julia Verhaeghe, often said: “God wants your happiness and we do too!”

Join other young Catholic women to chat and explore God’s will for you at St Columba’s Church, Upper Gray Street, Edinburgh, from 4-7pm on the following dates. February 26, March 26, April 30, May 28. Contact Sr Mirjam Hugens at

Sr Mirjam Hugens is the Director of Religious Vocations for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Article first published in The Scottish Catholic.

Archbishop praises religious sisters on Feast of Assumption

The work and spiritual life of women religious in our diocese has been praised by Archbishop Cushley on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Speaking in his homily at online Mass  he said: “Like our Blessed Lady, our religious women say a perfect and complete ‘yes’ to God when prompted by His inspiration. They bear Christ to the world in their own flesh, by their words, by their actions and by their love for everyone."

There are 16 different female religious orders in our diocese and the Archbishop asked for prayers for a local woman who enters a convent today.

He added: "Many women’s religious congregations have the Feast of the Assumption as the moment when young women enter religious life, take the veil, take their first vows and even profess solemn vows as nuns and religious. It is a beautiful thought to recall how our nuns associate themselves with Our Blessed Lady, assumed into heaven on the day that they give themselves to religious life."

"They follow Christ on His missionary journeys, like Mary they listen to Him, seated at His feet, like Martha they serve Him cheerfully and willingly, like Our Lady they suffer with Jesus as He hangs upon the cross. Like Mary Magdalene they keep vigil with Him in death, they welcome the Risen Lord when He appears, and they hope to reign joyfully with Him one day in the presence of Our Lady and all the saints in heaven.

"As we remember the Assumption of Our Lady today, as she falls asleep and is welcomed into paradise by her Son, we remember all the people of our diocese dedicated to Her, we remember in particular our children, their teachers and all our religious woman – our nuns – as they seek to imitate Our Lady in her love, her patience, in her sorrows and in her joys.”

Read Archbishop Cushley's full homily here.



TONIGHT: Launching our 'Ask Me Anything' talks

Tonight we're hosting a very special event - Ask Me Anything.

It's a chance for young women to ask a religious sister anything about life as a nun. It's the first of three monthly events and our speaker is Sister Mary Margaret, of the Sisters of Nazareth in Bonnyrigg.

This event is for young women who want to find out more about the religious life in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere . It's also for those who simply want to hear what it's like being part of a religious community in 2020.

You can register at Eventbrite or simply turn up at St Columba's Church, 9 Upper Gray Street, Edinburgh.


Augustinian community praised at Annual Day for Religious

Archbishop Leo Cushley paid tribute to the role of the Augustinian community at the Annual Day for Religious in Edinburgh today.

They religious order recently announced it is to leave St Joseph's in Broomhouse, Edinburgh, which it has served since 1995.

Brothers and sisters gathered at St Margaret's Chapel at the Gillis Centre for Holy Mass in which Archbishop Cushley was the principal celebrant.

In the homily (see bottom) he said: "Not so long ago, a small community of Augustinians joined the diocese in a pastoral capacity and went to work in Sighthill.

"It was a wonderful community that they nourished by the preaching of the Gospel there for this last generation. They also worked in Heriot-Watt University as chaplains, and I saw for myself the exceptional work done there, on the subject on faith and science.

"Now however, due to their own internal circumstances, the Augustinians told me recently of their decision to withdraw from the diocese, and we will be the poorer for their absence, both as a body of men and as individuals, I know how much they have been appreciated and I can sense already that they will be missed."

The day featured Sister Mirjam Hugens, the Archdiocesan Director for Religious Vocations, discussing the various initiatives she has carried out to encourage more vocations to the religious life.

This has included collaborating with Father Andrew Garden, Vocations Director, to start a monthly Mass for Vocations and encouraging the laity to pray for more young people to answer the call of God to serve him in the priesthood and religious life.

Father Jamie Boyle, Vicar Episcopal for Clergy & Religious, said: "This annual event is a great way to bring together all our religious brothers and sisters to pray and enjoy a special day."

(All images, Stephen Dolan)