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Archives Rachel Daly begins journey towards final vows as Franciscan Sister of Renewal
‘A time to grow in holiness’

Feb. 25, 2015

By John T. Ryan
Contributing writer

Peru – Each Sunday St. Augustine’s parishioners pray that one of their number will respond to God’s call to the religious life. On Sept. 21, 2014 their prayers were answered when the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal of Bronx, New York received Rachel Daly as a candidate for their religious community.

Rachel attended St. Augustine’s School and graduated from Seton Catholic in 2010. Last spring she earned an English degree at the University of Dallas. She was in Peru visiting her parents Matt and Bobbi Daly for Christmas and took time to speak with The Peru Gazette.

Older people recall a time when many Catholic young people decided to become a priest or nun. That is not the situation today; religious vocations have been declining for many years.

Rachel explained why she chose a religious vocation. “I’ve known sisters throughout my life – Sisters Helen and Kathleen at St. Augustine’s School and Sister Debbie Blow at Seton Catholic was a big part of my life through high school,” she said. “That exposure to religious life opened the concept of a vocation to me.”

She also recalls an experience when she attended Camp Guggenheim, the Diocese of Ogdensburg’s summer resident camp for teens.

“A Carmelite sister came to speak to us about religious life,” Rachel said. “My friend was fascinated with her and wanted to talk to her. So the two of us did, and we found that sister to be joyful, beautiful, and clearly very happy.”

The University of Dallas was also a welcoming place for anyone considering a religious vocation.

Rachel said, “Several of my fellow students considered the religious life. A girl I lived next to as a freshman actually entered an order around the same time I did.”

Between her college junior and senior years Rachel participated in a summer internship where she came into contact with Franciscans who worked with the poor. She said, “I got a taste of the Franciscan spirit.”

Rachel chose the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal after visiting their New York City convents where she discovered a real sense of family among the sisters. The sister’s mission of working with the poor, the homeless and evangelization was also in line with her desires.

Rachel is just beginning an eight-year journey before taking her final vows.

“I’m learning the life,” she said. “It’s about becoming something in order to have something to give. We don’t just bring food to people – we also hope to bring Christ. So this time is about growing in holiness.”

Rachel begins her day with 6 a.m. recitation of the Office of Readings followed by an hour of private meditation, morning prayer and Mass. There’s also a midday prayer, a late afternoon holy hour, evening prayer, rosary and night prayer. Two days each week she attends classes, and on other days she might do chores, study or assist in her community’s food distribution and soup kitchen apostolates. Fridays are devoted to prayer, silence and fasting.

The sisters are not all work and no play. Evening dinner is an “extended meal” when lively conversation and interaction are encouraged. Each Sunday the sisters enjoy a late morning brunch and an afternoon of rest, during which they might take walks, have a community outing or write letters home.

Asked what has been the most difficult aspect of her candidacy, Rachel responded, “Letting go of my own will. Before entering I was a college student and could design my own schedule. It’s an adjustment to get used to living in community and not only having myself to think about. I’m having to let go of doing what I want, when I want.”

Rachel Daly has been called to serve at a time when the Catholic Church has a new and dynamic leader in Pope Francis. Rachel said, “Pope Francis is working to renew the Church. Christ gave the Church a mission to go to the end of the earth and share the Gospel and to be bold. As a church if we’re not doing that then we’re calcifying. Pope Francis is reminding us to be Christ-like and to be gentle and humble, which is very similar to our community’s special Franciscan call. So it’s a gift to be living in an intensified way what Pope Francis is asking of the whole Church.”

(Reprinted with permission from The Peru Gazette )

Rachel Daly

Rachel Daly, a native of Peru, second from left, is shown with other candidates for the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal during their Sept. 21 candidacy reception. From left are Stephanie Beach of New Jersey, Rachel, Brittany Allen of Arizona, Klara Folse of Virginia and Sister Agnes  at Our Lady Queen of Angels Convent chapel in the Bronx. Rachel, who grew up as a member of St. Augustine’s Parish and graduated from Seton Catholic in Plattsburgh, was a regular columnist for the North Country Catholic during her high school and college years. Here she reflects on the growth of her vocation in an interview with the Peru Gazette.


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