Pittsburgh Convent Crawl allows women to interact with nuns

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Single Catholic women ages 18 to 40 will mingle and pray with nuns from four orders during a convent crawl on Friday and Saturday.

Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Religious Vocation Council, the program is free.

Participants will have dinner and stay overnight with the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh in Bakerstown before visiting other convents. Transportation and meals will be provided.

At one stop, nuns from four orders will discuss what drew them to religious life.

Two women are considering vocations after participating last year, said Sister Marlene Kline of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Millvale, who is in charge of registration.

“This gives young people an opportunity to meet sisters in an informal setting,” she said.

Sister Barbara Ann Smelko of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg said the crawl is as important to nuns as it is to visitors.

“It keeps alive the spirit,” said Sister Barbara Ann, noting sisters enjoy the company. “Even if one person (registers), we still do it.” Four women had signed up for the crawl as of early this week, and two others were considering it. Two crawls last year attracted 14 people, she said.

Laura Halas, 28, of West View said she is thinking and praying to determine whether she has a calling to be a nun. She attended last year's crawl, and is active in volunteer ministries.

Sister Mary Grace Blum of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities enjoyed greeting guests last year.

“The openness of the women who came to our house last year touched my heart,” she said. “They seemed to drink in all they were seeing and hearing. I was truly inspired by that.”

Sister Althea Anne Spencer of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God in Whitehall was impressed by the way the women asked questions.

“They were so willing to share their experiences,” she said. “The sincerity of the sharing of their own faith journeys was a wonderful delight.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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