|Sister Phyllis Shaughnessy
I am the oldest of three children, born to Phyllis and Raymond Shaughnessy. My mother was Canadian and my father was from Pittsburg and they met on St. Pete Beach. They were married in Toronto and moved to Florida shortly after they were married. My mother was Anglican until a few days before she died and my father was Catholic. We had the richness of both Religions in that Mom read the Bible to us and Dad shared his Catholic Faith. We all attended Church together and Mom helped us with our Catechism.
We went to Catholic Grade school and High School, and then I went onto what was St. Petersburg Junior College and USF. I became engaged and as time went on and the date for our wedding got closer, I knew that somehow my heart had already been given. This is a question I hope to ask God when I see Him- how did He do this. Any way, I broke the engagement off and began looking at different Orders. The Clares' were the sixth community I visited. Their joy in being together and their love of life and God's people struck me the first time I was with them. A few weeks later I came to spend the weekend and their community prayer, private prayer time and the spirit in which they worked and lived together touched my heart. Later that weekend, I was able to work along side of them serving people in need. I felt so at home that I wrote to a friend, " I do not know what I need to do to enter with these sisters, but I have found home." The friend often reminds me of this. That was over 35 years ago.
I grew up in the 60's with all the turmoil and the Vietnam War. I wanted to make my life count for something. Not to get my name in lights, but to help make this world a little better for those around me. I had started into pre-med, but I realized that there was something more that God wanted. That this life is important, but the next life is more important and depends on how we live this life. I entered and was sent to California for Formation. I went to Ireland after six years to prepare for Final Vows and then back to Florida to actually make my Final Profession. Two short years later I was back on a plane to El Salvador, Central America, where I spent the next twelve years doing parish ministry in the middle of a Civil War.
Back to Florida to help start a House of Formation, for women interested in becoming Sisters of St. Clare. After my term as Formation Directress, I started back into parish ministry, first at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and now at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle-which by the way is the Grade School that I attended. It is wonderful and strange to give Holy Communion to my retired Chemistry Teacher, to walk down the same halls where I spent so much time, this time with teacher's manuals under my arm.
The first day, when I entered the Convent I managed to pull the door handle off of the Chapel door leaving the whole community outside of the chapel with no way in. Get lost and locked out of the convent-waking the whole community to get back into the house. The following morning as we ate breakfast in silence, I sent my soft boiled egg into the Superior's lap. I did not know how to use an egg cup. But they still kept me.
Why do I stay? I still feel it is where God has Called me to be and every day He continues to confirm the call. I try to remember when things are difficult-Why did I come and for whom did I come.