The Sisters: A Day in the Life


Julia Maushardt, Writer

It’s common to hear students come into Marin Catholic thinking of the Sisters as strict, cranky old ladies who slap wrists with rulers. However, it quickly becomes evident that the Sisters are the complete opposites of their hypothetical stereotypes. They serve as “spiritual moms”, here to teach not only academics, but to help Marin Catholic students find their way through spiritual and emotional obstacles. But, aside from lots of prayer, not much is really known about the lives of the Sisters.

The Sisters’ day begins with Eucharistic Holy Hour at 5:30 a.m., which includes readings, meditation, and the Angelus, a prayer celebrating the Incarnation of Jesus. “We actually have a chapel in our convent, with the Blessed Sacrament there,” says Sister Rose with a smile, “so we actually have Jesus living in our house, which is pretty awesome.” The Sisters then take on their daily work assignments, known as apostolates. “Pretty much all of our assignments are teaching, unless it’s a study, which is pretty much to prepare for teaching,” says Sister Maria Frassati. Similar to a university with multiple campuses, the Dominican Sisters of Mary are spread throughout the United States (and even Italy), while the Mother House in Michigan provides the central foundation. Some Sisters, instead of traveling, remain at the Mother House to aid the younger postulants in their spiritual journeys.

After school hours, an afternoon prayer service called Vespers is held, which leads into dinner at 5:30. Late evenings consist of recreation time, spiritual readings and prayer, and the singing of the Salve Regina. Game Night, involving lots of cards and board games, is held during recreation time each day. “Sister Rose and I are very competitive,” laughs Sister Teresa Benedicta. Occasionally, such as on a sick day, they’ll hold a movie night, watching any good movie within a realm of moral standards. “I really like action movies,” says Sister Rose, “but some of the Sisters really like romance movies.” After 8 p.m., the rest of the night is dedicated to silent prayer, reflection, and study.

The Sisters’ extremely full schedules leave them little time for leisure, let alone creating lesson plans. In addition to getting more sleep, most of the grading and worksheet preparation is done on the weekends (and in between all of that, Sister Maria Frassati is studying to earn her doctorate in English). To make up for such a full schedule, the Sisters have a Retreat Sunday once a month to enjoy solitude and spend quiet time with God. “We have just a more free schedule for more silence and prayer time, which sounds not exciting, but it’s actually relaxing,” explains Sister Maria Frassati. Although there’s no time to care for pets, Sister Rose is a certified Marin Humane Society animal foster parent, and the Sisters fostered a few cats a couple years back. Otherwise, their time is mostly spent in dedication to God and their apostolate duties.

The lovely white habits of the Sisters are not issued by the Church, nor is there an online shopping link, but rather they sew them during their first year in the Sisterhood. The process of learning to sew as a new Sister is described as a “bonding experience,” during which they order the fabrics and create their habits together. “So then you don’t have to worry about, ‘oh my gosh, my habit’s been discontinued!’” chuckles Sister Mariana. Each Sister has only two habits and a sleeping gown. Veils are worn at all times, but sleeping veils lack the plastic fitting of daily ones to provide for more comfort. “It’s an eight hundred year old style,” says Sister Rose, “so…it’s been slightly changed over the centuries, but…it’s pretty cool that the pattern’s been passed on, in some sense, for eight hundred years.”

With around four to five prayer services per day, the intentions behind the Sisters’ prayers are equally as important as the words themselves. “We teach, and then we go home and we pray together, and we play games together, and then we prepare for the next day of class, but a big part of our life is praying for our students,” says Sister Mariana. “So that’s what we all want them to know, is that we go home and we are praying for them.”