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Jubilarians 2024 Vocation Story: Sr. Maureen George, FSP

Sr. Maureen George Muldowney is originally from West Islip, Long Island, New York. This year she celebrates her Golden Jubilee after 50 years of religious life as a Daughter of St. Paul.

A Golden Jubilee is a very special celebration of religious profession. Can you give us an insight into what religious profession means to you?

I see religious profession as a covenant of love and commitment between God and the soul. He calls and I answer and continue to answer every day of my life. I professed my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in 1974, and five years later I made my perpetual profession for all my life. Religious profession is the true beginning of my covenant with my Lord and makes me who I am, “an apostle of the Lord,” chosen and beloved, evangelizer and bearer of his word. Each day I must recommit myself in love and open my heart to the voice of God. It is a continuous process, to humbly accept the endless graces granted to me to become another Christ—“he must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30 NABRE). Each day is a new opportunity, a new beginning, a fresh start to love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to be loved unconditionally by them in return.

Sr. Maureen, can you talk about how your interest in religious life began?

I attended Catholic school and from a very young age wanted to be a sister. I felt God placing the desire in my heart to follow him in religious life, and so I was always looking around for information about different congregations of sisters.

When I was about thirteen, my mother picked up some vocational literature at a Catholic Daughters meeting. The piece that she brought home from the Daughters of St. Paul was called Christ Is Here. It explained about their mission, the work that the sisters did, a little bit about the history of their congregation, and so forth. It also mentioned the high school aspirancy program that we had at that time, which really caught my attention—as did the fact that the sisters made books. Their apostolate was so different from the apostolates of the other sisters I had learned about. I wasn’t really into teaching or nursing, but I loved to read!

So my dad began to bring me to visit the sisters on Staten Island once a month when they offered retreat days for young women who were interested in religious life. I kept in contact with the sisters until I graduated from high school in June of 1970. I entered that same year, on August 22, which at that time was the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, though it has since been changed to the feast of the Queenship of Mary. Mary has always been a comforting presence in my life.

Throughout the years of your religious life, what experiences have you had of the Pauline mission?

Just like many other Daughters of St. Paul, I’ve experienced many different aspects of our mission. During the years I was a postulant and novice, I shared in the mission of the sisters in our publishing house. At that time, we had our own printing presses and bindery right in the convent. So, for example, in the morning, we might be helping out in the book bindery at one of the machines, such as the folder or the sewing machine. Then, in the afternoon we’d help to prepare packages of books in the shipping department. We were learning so many different things all at the same time. For a while I worked in the department where we mailed out magazines. I remember it being very exciting, especially because we were new and young and had lots of energy.

At a certain point I worked alongside the sisters in the typesetting department. At that time, manuscripts had to be retyped after they were accepted for publication. I worked at a Linofilm machine, which was an advanced photocomposition system for the time—but it certainly wasn’t anything like the computers we have now. For example, today we have dropdown menus for choosing fonts and determining formatting. To adjust the font, the size, anything, when typesetting on a Linofilm machine, you had to move these little dials on a console that looked like one of those controls on the old Star Trek show. Now the sisters in our publishing house use Macs and design programs the way everyone else does, but that was what everyone was using back then.

Even though we were working with machines to print and bind the books, we always knew it was mission. It was the way in which the word of God was multiplied to reach people hungry for the truth and for the light and mercy of God. We always prayed while we worked. We prayed a lot of rosaries, a lot of prayers for the souls in purgatory, offering up various intentions, and praying for the people who would eventually read the books. It’s true that when we worked in the book bindery or typesetting, we were not in face-to-face contact with the people, but we prayed for them.

Later on, I was sent to carry out the Pauline mission of evangelization in our convents around the country. There I had much more contact with people, and I saw firsthand how people’s lives changed when they received our books. Being with the people in various parts of the US and Canada, I began to get the feel of what people needed in their spiritual life. I carried them in my heart when I prayed before Jesus in the Eucharist every day.

Over the years I’ve been assigned to: Boston, MA; New Orleans, Alexandria, and Baton Rouge, LA; Cleveland, OH; Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; St. Louis, MO; Miami, FL; Alexandria, VA; San Antonio, TX; Toronto, Canada (I was there for eight years—I loved it); and Chicago, IL. Each place was unique, with its own culture, its own unique character. That’s why, in the end, I couldn’t help but love every place I’ve been stationed.

For a while I worked in the provincial archives. Now I work in the publishing house, doing some proofreading and processing manuscript submissions.

What has sustained you in your religious life?

What has always been my strength has been our daily hour of adoration or Visit with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament along with hearing and meditating on God’s word and receiving Communion at Mass each day.

Also, I have found the words of Saint Paul encouraging: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (see Phil 4:13). When I pray these words, I often add the words: “in him who comforts me, in him who loves me” and so forth.

What advice would you give to someone discerning their vocation?

I would encourage you to pray much to discern whether God is calling you to religious life. Connect with people who accept the idea of religious life and who would support you no matter what you decide—so if you decide not to enter, that’s okay too, you know! Then start by contacting a few different religious communities, contemplative and active, to find out about their prayer life and their mission.

Like I said, pray much, but don’t wait too long to decide! Because if God is calling you to be a Daughter of St. Paul, an apostle of the media, he will also be generous with the graces you need to persevere.

Remember, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”

 

Meet the Author

Maureen George Muldowney, FSP

Proclaiming the gospel through the media.

In a world that yearns to receive the Good News, we seek through the various aspects of our mission to be instruments of mercy, hope, and love.

Discern Your Vocation

Our sisters regularly host opportunities for vocational discernment, providing a space for young women to find out more about religious life and pray about where God is calling them. To find out about opportunities near you or to speak with a sister about vocational discernment, get in touch with us. Know that we are praying for you!

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