“At the time, it was the best combination between religious life, finishing college, getting involved with the Sisters and diving into a deeper understanding of their mission, their community and their way of life. It fits with where I am right now in my life.”
As a business major at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, WV, Molly rotated between attending Mass at the campus Newman Center and at Immaculate Conception parish, typically choosing the location where Father Walter Jagela was presiding over Mass. When Molly began contemplating religious life during her sophomore year, Father Walt helped her explore possibilities.
“Father Walt related very well to college students. He became my spiritual director and we went to convents together and he nudged Sister Stella and told her that I was considering religious life,” Molly says.
Sister Stella Cronauer, pastoral associate at the parish, reached out to Molly and was struck by her engaging spirit and enthusiasm and her social justice advocacy. They talked about vowed religious life and Sister Stella also mentioned the Associate program as another way to share in the mission and life of the Sisters. Molly tucked this option into the back of her mind as she continued to visit convents. Many of the Sisters she visited spoke about feeling a distinct “pull” to religious life, but Molly wasn’t sure if it was right for her.
“I kept thinking about Sister Stella and how she had mentioned the Associate program as an option and it just kind of grew,” she says. “One day, she called just to check in and see how I was doing. She invited me to a women’s retreat in Baden where I met some other Associates and felt like it was a good fit.”
Molly began attending monthly prayer gatherings that included the CSJA orientation program with Sister Stella and Associates Sue Boyce, Carolyn Boyers, Mary Rose Mustachio and Nancy Wood, all of whom are parishioners at Immaculate Conception. She was especially appreciative that the group changed their regular meeting night from Monday to Sunday to accommodate her class schedule.
“I’m super thankful to the community and to the Associates of West Virginia who helped me with my formation and to everyone who will journey with me in the future.”
Sister Stella sponsored Molly, now a senior, during the April 23 installation ceremony in the Baden chapel. Her parents, friends and spiritual director joined Associates and Sisters to celebrate the occasion. Molly credits her mother for pushing her and her two brothers to go to church and her father for encouraging his children to “be who God created you to be.”
“The Chapel is beautiful! There was oneness of spirit in the music. It was prayer. The homily was inspirational,” Molly’s mother, Pamela Durbin, wrote on the Sisters’ Facebook page after the celebration.
As a child, Molly went to public school and attended evening catechism classes. In high school, she was bullied and recalls coming home from school sobbing until her parents recommended considering a private school. She settled on Delone Catholic High School in eastern Pennsylvania and loved her principal, a Sister of St. Joseph from New York.
With college graduation just a week away, Molly hopes to secure a position doing training and development and has already had several interviews. She’s also excited to dive into community involvement as a CSJA and is particularly interested in the Sisters’ environmental and pet therapy ministries. She also relates to the Sisters’ willingness to help anyone in need and strives to do the same in her own life.
To Molly, the beauty of the Sisters’ mission is that each Sister and Associate “can be doing something different every day and still be fulfilling the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”