Sister Denise Glazik says she understood the nature of call early in religious life when she realized she was not called to teaching. Try as she would, she found no life, energy, or satisfaction in that ministry. With the help of others, she discerned a call to pastoral ministry and finally knew she was doing what she was called to because of the surge of creativity, energy, and joy that followed.
Since July 1, Sister Denise has put all her creative energy and joy at the service of vocation ministry for the Dominican Sisters.
“I have such a huge learning curve,” she admits, “but it feels good.”
The youngest of 14 siblings, Sister Denise was born in Paxton, Ill., and spent much of her early life in and around her gregarious family’s businesses, including restaurant and catering, in rural Champaign County. She joined the Springfield Dominicans in August 1988, made first profession in 1991; professed perpetual vows August 8, 1994. She remains close to her siblings and the 98 nieces and nephews they are raising for Sister Denise to spoil.
Sister Denise is under no illusion that vocation encouragement is easy. After years of parish-based pastoral ministry, she is close to what is happening in people’s lives. “How are we going to invite people when they are not even going to church?” she asks. “Mass and sacraments are a part of our daily life. I believe young people are living gospel, but [many of them] are not practicing a religion.”
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She says she can invite women to consider religious life, but they are often surprised by what that means. “Oh, by the way, we go to Mass and we receive the sacraments, we pray together, and we live in community. What we have we are to share in common. It’s not ‘mine’ but ‘ours’,” she says, “Our house, our cars, our money,” she tics off the practices of consecrated religious life so antithetical to Western culture.
Given all that, why even try?
Despite the challenges, there are women who are choosing religious life and discerning that choice. Sister Denise is building relationships with several women who are enlivened by God’s lure of their hearts to this radical life choice. “God calls and we welcome,” she says with a smile.
“I love my life,” she adds. “I want others to love this life, too. And so many of our sisters have called me to take on this role of service for the community. They mention my gifts of presence and patience and, listening and pastoral ministry.”
In her brief time in her new ministry she’s come to think of what she does as A.I.D.ing: Animating the sisters in the congregation; Inviting young people to open themselves to the startling realization that God calls them for a purpose in life, and Discerning with young women who are interested in learning whether consecrated life is a good fit for them.
She grows animated speaking about her experiences in the past few months. One weekend she traveled with two sisters who are cousins to one another—Sister Marcelline and Sister Sara Koch—to the parish in Crystal Lake, Ill., where Sister Sara once taught. What Sister Denise witnessed by their sharing of the weekend vocation event filled her with joy and hope.
The husband of one of Sister Sara’s former students stood with his arms embracing Sister Sara on one side and his mother-in-law on the other and said “You two were instrumental in helping my wife to become the woman she is. For that I owe you great thanks.”
“You two were instrumental in helping my wife to become the woman she is."
Labor Day weekend, several sisters and associates gathered in Jacksonville for a parish festival that included a vocation booth. Our Dominican presence started there in 1873 and continues today through our faith-filled Dominican Associates. “That’s the meaning of our lives—witnessing to God’s love and touching others through our relationships,” Sister Denise says. To Praise, To Bless and To Preach! “That is what I have been asked to do with my vowed life and that’s what I will invite others to do with theirs.”
To join Sister Denise in her ministry of A.I.D.ing religious vocations call her at 217-787-0481.