Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Religious life is ‘a dream come real’ for Providence Sister
Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the Aug. 21, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
Providence Sister Jessica Taylor (left) began to recognize the seeds of her Religious vocation when she was 14. (IR photo)
Sister Jessica Taylor took her first vows as a Sister of Providence Aug. 12 in Spokane. She began her formation program in Yakima on Aug. 21, 2000.
Sister Jessica knew she wanted to be a Religious Sister at age 14, even though, she said, “I didn’t know what a Sister was. We didn’t have any in our parish where I grew up,” St. Francis of Assisi in Burien, Wash.
Her parents, Glenn and JoAnn Taylor, were involved with the church, and, said Sister Jessica: “I lived at the church when I was a kid.” She loved learning about the church, too. “I always had a real desire” for that, she said.
She may have had a “real desire,” but her parents agreed: 14 is young to enter Religious life, and told their daughter she needed to finish high school first. Sister Jessica agreed, too: “I was way too young.”
After she graduated from high school and once again contemplated Religious life, Sister Jessica decided to heed the advice of those who told her, “You need to have some life experiences. You don’t know anything yet.” She laughed as she recalled the memory. “I was thankful people said that. I really didn’t.”
Life experiences weren’t long in coming. Sister Jessica became a college student; she dated; she entered the world of work. In all that, she noticed a compartmentalization of her life that she didn’t like. “My work life was one place; my personal life was in another and my spirituality somewhere else,” she said.
But her most valuable experiences were those that strengthened her vocation. She earned degrees in special education and psychology at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. “In college I got a chance to explore Religious life,” she said. “I started to understand what a call was and whether I had one.”
She lived at the college’s Newman Center, another spiritual building block that she termed a “great experience.” That wasn’t her only spiritual experience.
After graduation, Sister Jessica taught special education for three years, which brought home to her the awareness that, by itself, “teaching wasn’t enough.” She had “actively looked at” five Religious orders and finally chose the Sisters of Providence since, she said, “their charism and mission matched mine. Where they were was where I wanted to be.”
In Yakima Sister Jessica lived with the Sisters of Providence and taught sign language at the new LaSalle High School there. Sign language and helping the deaf communicate is one of her special interests, since she has aunts and uncles who are deaf.
Sister Jessica is currently working at the Women’s Drop-in Center in Spokane, where “I do whatever needs doing.” She will continue working at the center, but eventually she will join the vocation team for her order.
The Taylors have two other daughters and one son. Her parents are very supportive of their daughter’s vocation.
The first Religious in the Taylor family is still an all-around woman. She loves outdoor sports such as hiking and biking. “I love going to movies and I love to read,” she said, confessing a “real passion” for the latter.
At this point Sister Jessica isn’t sure where her life as a Sister of Providence will lead. She figures a master’s degree is in her future, perhaps in social work or counseling. “I’m keeping my options open,” she said.
Whatever comes, Sister Jessica sees her life as “a dream made real.” Part of that dream is the joy she has found in community. “Everyone has the same goal and we can talk about it,” she said. “I can take off my shoes and feel at home.
“I found something very good.”