Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hermit nun is anything but reclusive.

It seems I've been posting a lot about Iraqi Christians lately, but nonetheless I'd like to call your attention to an interesting article in today's Boston Globe:
For a hermit, Sister Olga Yaqob is remarkably extroverted. She ministers to students at Boston University's Catholic Center, criscrosses the country giving talks on campuses, and uses public transit because by looking at other passengers, "I do feel that the world wants me to pray for them."

Yaqob, 40, is the only canonical hermit in the Archdiocese of Boston, remaining in solitude and contemplative prayer every Saturday while conducting a public ministry the rest of the week. Yet as metaphor, hermit fits her life story as Yaqob tells it. She has often stood outside the community, be it growing up in Iraq's microscopic Christian minority or leaving her family and their ancestral church to become a nun.
Click here to learn more about Sister Olga. Some details in the Globe story require clarification and/or correction. Sister Olga grew up in the Assyrian Church of the East, an ancient Christian church which is neither Catholic (contrary to what the Globe says) or Orthodox. The Assyrian Church of the East is separate from the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome and includes monks and nuns. Nonetheless, Sister Olga didn't have to leave the Assyrian Church in order to become a nun; on the contrary, with her bishop's permission she founded a community of religious women that was evidently the first in the modern history of her church. Despite her status as a pioneer in the Assyrian Church, Sister Olga's spiritual journey ultimately led her to Roman Catholicism and to a new life as a canonical hermit and campus minister in Boston. Her story - which includes an unexpected Jesuit connection - is worth reading.

I'm not all that surprised that a hermit like Sister Olga would pursue an apostolic vocation. In my limited experience, I've run into a couple hermits - both, strangely enough, at Russian Catholic parishes. One of these hermits apparently lives out a purely contemplative vocation, but the other is involved in ministry to the homeless and people with AIDS. Modern manifestations of eremetical religious life take many forms, as Sister Olga's story shows. Today, I'll be praying for Sister Olga Yaqob and her vocation as an apostolic hermit. AMDG.


At 11/12/2006 8:34 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Sister Olga bears amazing witness to the loving spirit of God!


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