Non-traditional vocations changing Catholic perceptions of Sisters

According to the Sisters of Saint Francis since Vatican II 50 years ago women have been allowed to have more options for serving the Lord.

Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak can take the picture on a three by two inch card of the Virgin Mother and make a massive mural like this. You can find her work all over the Lourdes University campus. "I never ask for a job, but it keeps coming my way so I feel it's what god wants me to do," says Sorosiak.

Sister Jane Mary has made murals for hospitals, schools, and seminaries from Texas to New York to North Carolina. "I'd like to think that if I worked in any other area of life I would not be able to work at this scale," says Sorosiak.

Sister Jane Mary is not alone. According to the Sisters of Saint Francis since Vatican II 50 years ago women have been allowed to have more options for serving the Lord. Pre-vatican II sisters were relegated to teaching or hospital work but that has changed over the decades to include much more.

Some of these positions include lawyers - documentary film makers and authors. That's what Sister Karen Zielinski does as part of her ministry. "We are normal women who are trying to change the world for the better," says Zielinski.

Sister Karen has lived with multiple sclerosis for over thirty years. Just a little longer than she's been a sister. She turned her experience fighting the diseases into a book called "Hope and Help for Living with Illness."

Sister Karen says her vocation allows her handicap to become a place of strength for others. "This is more than a job. It's a ministry this is what I do to help others and it's an outflow of my faith," says Zielinski. Sister Karen says she receives regular messages from people who have been helped by sharing her experience. And she wouldn't of been able to do this without the help of the sisterhood.

"We found a need, and sometimes that need is hard to find, and we try to address it and fill it with help," says Zielinski.

According to Sisters of Saint Francis with times changing comes changing needs, but the tradition of the Sisterhood will always allow these women to be able to lend a soft heart and helping hand. "It's important to feel the link with the past - and it's necessary to make the present more peaceful," says Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak.

The sisters of Saint Francis say numbers for incoming sisters have declined because there are so many different options for lay women to participate in the church that allows them to live conventional lives. But these sisters hope that more exposure of the interesting vocations sisters do is the best way to hopefully boost the numbers of women who would chose to dawn a habit and work for the Lord.