On the Journey—Sister Marcia Boes’ Life Commitment

As a young girl, Marcia Boes had never considered religious life. In fact, she pictured herself getting married and having children. But on October 15, 2017, she took the last step in her journey to sisterhood when she made her perpetual profession of vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio in the presence of her family, friends and fellow Sisters.

As a child, Marcia grew up near Kirby, a small town near Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Her family belonged to St. Mary’s Chapel, a part of Transfiguration of the Lord Parish in Upper Sandusky. When in 8th grade, she played the piano at Mass for the first time. “The Church and my faith have always been important to me,” she said. “I came from a strong Catholic family and am a middle child among three other siblings. I have 11 nieces and nephews whom I love dearly.”

Following her high school graduation, Marcia worked as a medical transcriptionist until the age of 27 and eventually earned her Bachelor of Music Education Degree. For eight years, she taught music to students in grades K-7 at Benton-Carroll Salem School in Oak Harbor, Ohio. It was during this time in her life that she began discerning her life’s vocation. “At that point, I was really searching and wondering exactly where I was going in life,” Sister Marcia said as she looked back.

On October 15, 2017 Sister Marcia celebrated her Perpetual Profession of Vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio. Pictured are Community Minister Sister Sara Aldridge, Sister Marcia and Officiant Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of the Toledo Diocese.

In the summer of 2008 Marcia contacted Sister Barbara Jean Miller, a Tiffin Franciscan who was the Pastoral Associate in Upper Sandusky, and talked to her about her soul-searching. “She asked if I had ever considered religious life,” said Sister Marcia. “My response was tears…lots of tears. I needed to talk to someone about it and knew deep in my heart that she had touched upon a really deep truth. I then met with a local priest who really encouraged me to deepen my prayer life, pray for insight and be open to the possibility.” That was the point at which Marcia’s discernment changed. “When I was finally ready to be open to the possibility of a religious vocation, it became clear that the real question was more about what God’s will was for me and less about what I thought I wanted,” she added.

According to Sister Marcia, there were two very important questions that she needed to address during the discernment process. The first was “Am I called to religious life?” and the second, “What community am I being called to?”

“All religious orders have lots to offer, so it was a matter of deciding which was the best fit for me,” explained Sister Marcia. In April of 2009, she visited the Sisters of Norte Dame in Toledo for a Come and See weekend and then continued meeting in a discernment group with two other candidates. Sister Marcia found this to be extremely helpful. In the fall of 2009 and again in the spring of 2010 she attended a Come and See weekend with the Tiffin Franciscan Sisters. Marcia found herself wavering between the two Orders, as she liked them both.

Continuing her desire to learn more about St. Francis and St. Clare, Marcia attended a Come and See Weekend at St. Francis Spirituality Center, where the Spirit gifted her with insight. “Sister Patricia Froning was reflecting on how St. Francis and St. Clare lived the Gospel, and at that moment, deep in my heart, I had my answer.” After the program ended and everyone left, I just sat in the lounge and cried because I realized that this is where I am called to be. The Franciscan Charism resonated deeply within me.”

The next day, Marcia returned to the Notre Dame Sisters to share her decision. “Sister Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock said that this was the most at peace she had ever seen me. That was so helpful; it was an affirmation of my discernment. In December of 2010 Marcia became a candidate with the Sisters of St. Francis.

It was not until about nine months into her discernment that Marcia shared her decision with her parents. “When I shared the news with them, they were not surprised; they saw it in me and were very encouraging,” explained Sister Marcia. “Sisters were not new to my family. My dad, who came from a large family, had two aunts who were Sisters of Mercy, and my cousin is a Notre Dame.”

Marcia became “Sister Marcia” on August 11, 2011 when she became a Tiffin Franciscan Novice.

In May of 2017, Sister Marcia received her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Liturgy and Church Music from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. She currently serves as the Pastoral Associate of Music and Worship at All Saints Parish in New Riegel and Sts. Patrick and Andrew in Bascom. “I love my ministry. It is multifaceted. It is intergenerational. I have grown to truly love the people in these parishes.”

As she reflects on her journey, Sister Marcia shared questions she needed to answer.

Why not single life? “Community life fits the person I am. I could have chosen to live a life of poverty as a single person without community, but community strengthens us,” explained Sister Marcia. “I appreciate being able to pray with my community as often as possible. Community calls me to be my best self. Community life is different because we all have Christ at our center. Where I live, we six sisters pray together, and that calls us to grow individually and communally.  It is not always perfect. It is like any other relationship. You have to work at it. It gives me life. They challenge me to live my vows simply by the way that they live their vows. They inspire, challenge, and help me to grow stronger by living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.”

Another question Sister Marcia continues to ponder: What does it mean to “be a sister to all”?  She reflects on Kerry Weber’s Mercy in the City: “It is easy for us to imagine ourselves doing great Works of Mercy but the difficulty is in the follow-through.” Sister Marcia shares her answer: “Community life encourages me on the journey. I had the opportunity to visit some of our Sisters’ ministries in Mexico in 2015. I was able to experience their life and witness their ministries at work. It was a wonderful experience and life changing.”

Answers to important questions come through prayer. “My daily life includes having the leisure for prayer each morning. I spend about an hour in prayer in ‘the prayer corner’ of my room.” She went on to say, “When I wrote my letter to Sister Sara Aldridge, Community Minister of the Sisters of St. Francis requesting to make perpetual vows, the other Sisters were invited to write letters of support.  They affirmed my daily devotion to prayer which is a huge factor in making me who I am.”

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