Mom, Don’t Faint

Disclaimer:  If the title brought you here hoping to see blood and gore, you are going to be very disappointed.  This post is unlikely to make anyone faint, with the possible exception of my mom.  Or maybe other Catholic grandmothers.  And mothers.  And possibly even a few Catholic grandfathers and dads.

Disclaimer #2: Remember a few weeks ago when I complained about my point-and-shoot camera?  Apparently, the camera was listening.  Within a week of that post, the camera lens stubbornly refused to open.  All the photos here (and most from the past few weeks) have been taken on Kevin’s “smart phone”.  Which is smart in every way except taking beautiful photos.

A few weeks ago, Gigi, Ali and I had the pleasure of visiting the convent of thesisters of St. Paul de Chartres here in Daegu.  We were greeted by about 10 novice sisters, young and vibrant and very excited to interact with us, as they spend most of this novice year in seclusion with only the other nuns for companionship.

It was an incredible visit.  The nuns were warm and welcoming.  Their convent grounds are beautiful.  They boast a chapel, a convent that houses 150 sisters (!), and a museum (formerly a chapel) with many historical artifacts.  Their history is incredible.  In 2015 they will celebrate their 100th anniversary in Daegu.  Here is the original plaque from 1915.

They have served the poor through foreign occupations, and through the Korean War.  Sr. Teresa told us an inspiring story of that era.  At that time, they cared for more than 300 infant orphans.  All those orphans wore diapers.  Cloth diapers.  The convent had no running water.  (Count your blessings, right?) Every day, several sisters had to load the soiled diapers up on a hand cart and pull it down to the river, about 2 miles away.  There, they hand washed the diapers (count your blessings again) and laid them to dry in the sun.  One afternoon, the American chaplain, a Catholic priest, saw them and asked about it.  They told him their plight, and he promptly raised the funds and donated the labor to build a water tower on their property.  The water tower still functions today.

About 20 years ago their orphanage closed, and they opened a Montessori school that serves children of the poor in their neighborhood. 

The school is beautiful and includes 12 classrooms, an atrium in the style of theCatechesis of the Good Shepherd, as well as a panyaro tea room, where the children learn to serve tea in the traditional Korean fashion. 

In the atrium, the children on the tour dressed up in miniature habits of the novice sisters. 

Mom, prepare to swoon.

Here is Gianna praying with Sr. Teresa.  
(There should be picture of Aliya dressed up as well, but she didn’t care at all for all the attention and promptly burst into tears and refused any photos until she was out of that habit!)
Wait, Mom. It gets better.

Here’s the thing I’m embarrassed to admit.  I’ve always, always, considered the life of nuns to be somehow lacking.  To be a sort of “plan B” for women who don’t have the good fortune to meet a charming and handsome man to marry.  I’m sad to say I’ve never considered it something one would approach with joy and excitement.  But after speaking with these sisters, learning that Korea has over 1,000 Sisters of St. Paul  (!!!!!) and seeing their happiness and dedication to their vocation, I can admit that I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

Here is a conversation, heavily paraphrased due to translation, I had with a novice sister, Sr. Agnes.  (She’s directly to the left of Gianna in the picture above.)

Me: What made you want to become a nun?
Sr. Agnes: I used to only care about making money.  I was in school to be an architect and I planned to be rich.  But God spoke to my heart and led me here.  Now I want to serve the poor.  I want to care for them.  It gives me great joy to help the needy.

Wow.  Consider me convinced.  Now, instead of a sorry second choice, I can happily present this as a viable vocational option to my daughters.  

And darn it if she isn’t adorable in a habit, right?


  1. oh Micaela, how beautiful! what beautiful lives of nuns, and those pictures of Gianna touched my heart.

  2. I know, Judy! I was almost in tears at the sight of them in habits. These women are amazing… No doubt about it.

  3. In answer to your question at the blogger help forum – an answer awaits:


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  4. She looks so sweet! My husband’s eldest sister is with the Daughters of St. Paul here in the states. Their ministry is media- book and video publishing, etc. She is beautiful and charming and funny. Had a slew of boys who would have happily thrown themselves in front of trains for her, but God chose her for that life and she is so, very happy and has been for 20+ years now. So wonderful!