By Makena Clawson, Reporter
You may be surprised to see three Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr of Saint George walking out of Elizabeth Hall.
Sister Mercedes Diaz, one of these three, thought from a young age she wanted to become a sister. It just took her a while to become one.
“Even though I felt for a long time that’s what God was calling me to, I didn’t always want it,” she said. “Especially when I realized boys were cute.”
Diaz decided to enter a convent at 18, but fear and knowing she was immature led her to attend school at Rutgers University last minute, she said.
After entering the party scene, dating different guys, not attending Mass and being put on academic probation, Diaz had a change of heart.
She realized “you can’t not discern forever,” she said.
“I lived about ten minutes away from our sisters all my life and I never knew that they existed until God’s timing,” she added.
But living in Elizabeth means major changes from life in a convent. The sisters continue their prayer commitments, but also balance school and being present to the students.
They begin their day at 5:15 a.m. with the Divine Office, breakfast in silence and personal meditation before they start the day as students. They come back together in the afternoon for prayer, Mass and dinner.
After fitting in school work, they still make time for fun.
Sister Isabella Erb, another sister who lives on campus, spoke of Diaz’ silly, joyful and merciful sides.
“She desires so much to be that saint, and she’s going to do it being her joyful and funny self,” Erb said.
This side of Diaz loves to sing, salsa dance, play charades and leave little notes for the other sisters.
“She just rejoices in being a religious,” Erb said. “You can see Jesus shining through her witness.”
This joy is visible to students on campus.
“The sisters do a really good job at reaching out because they’re students, as well,” said Nicole Hartwig, junior.
Hartwig encouraged students to join the sisters for meals and prayers. Spanish professor Dr. Edward Mulholland agreed.
“If you haven’t sat down and had lunch with a sister in your time here, God has given you a gift that you are not
unwrapping,” he said.
Students may be surprised at how relatable the sisters are.
“They’re a witness that this is a real option for you and it doesn’t automatically make you superhuman,” Mulholland said.
But Diaz can’t stay forever.
Diaz will graduate in Dec. after finishing her semester of student teaching at Maur Hill Mount Academy. Her next stop is Champagne, Ill., to teach Spanish and religion.
“I’m really excited to go where I know that a sister is needed,” she said. “It’s a death and a birth. There’s a death to Benedictine because I love it here, but it’s time to move on.”