‘Nun Run’ gives girls a head start in discerning vocations

Visit to the Poor Clares of Barhamsville, Virginia, on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo/Father Anthony Ferguson)

“During prayer at the Poor Clares, the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to do this,” said Father Dillon Bruce, when explaining the Nun Run, an event allowing girls to visit each of the three cloistered communities in our diocese in one day.

“I know how amazing it is to have these cloistered sisters in our diocese, but very few girls know about them. So I was inspired with the idea,” explained Father Bruce, parochial vicar of St. Joseph, Hampton; St. Mary Star of the Sea, Fort Monroe; and St. Vincent de Paul, Newport News.

Twenty-four girls, ranging from sixth to twelfth grades, from Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC), Newport News; Peninsula Catholic High School, Newport News; St. Bede, Williamsburg; and St. Vincent de Paul, went on the Nun Run on April 13.

Two priests accompanied them: Father Bruce and Father Anthony Ferguson, parochial vicar at St. Bede, Williamsburg, and chaplain at Walsingham Academy, Williamsburg. Two Dominican Sisters from OLMC and four chaperones also went along for the run.

The day started early, with a talk on obedience by the Dominican Sisters and morning prayer at Peninsula Catholic. Everyone boarded a bus and heard another talk during the 40-minute ride to visit the Poor Clares of Barhamsville, at the Bethlehem Monastery.

The Poor Clares are a cloistered monastic community following the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi. The ‘Nun Runners’ attended Mass there and heard a talk on poverty.

Participants of the “Nun Run” prepare for morning prayer at Peninsula Catholic High School, Newport News, on April 13, 2024. (Photo/Brittney Kinstetter)

Then, it was back on the bus to hear a talk on saints. A little more than one hour later, they arrived at the Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Monte Maria, in Rockville. They saw the Visitation Sisters, who are called to live a simple, hidden life, with the motto of “Live Jesus.” There, the girls had lunch, heard a talk on chastity, and attended adoration.

The girls heard a talk on discernment as they rode another hour to their third stop, to see the Trappist-Cisterian nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Crozet. Their tradition is to live, pray, work and study in contemplation. The ‘Nun Runners’ heard a talk on prayer and went on a rosary walk on the peaceful grounds.

They prayed evening prayer before boarding the bus one last time that day. Two and a half hours later, they arrived back home.

Rosary walk during a visit to the Trappist-Cistercian nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Crozet, Virginia, April 13, 2024. (Photo/Brittney Kinstetter)

Brittney Kinstetter, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Bede – which brought a group of nine girls – said the Nun Run was the first time she had ever interacted with cloistered communities in our diocese.

“The most fascinating thing I learned was that some communities wake up at all hours of the night to pray for the world while we are still sleeping,” Kinstetter said. “There is such a comfort in knowing that we are being prayed for, even when we don’t realize it.”

Elena Adinaro, middle school coordinator at OLMC – which had a group of eight girls – said she was inspired by the nuns’ lives of extreme discipline and obedience. “This inspired me to go back home and work on my own discipline, so that I too can love radically as a wife, mother and daughter of God.”

“This trip really emphasized the beauty of the Body of Christ and His Universal Church,” Adinaro added. “I had this moment on the bus as I looked at all the people … and it hit me how beautiful our Catholic faith is, and how good our Lord is for giving us community to journey towards heaven with.”

Father Bruce said he would like to do another Nun Run in the future. “I didn’t expect the amount of joy we experienced – both with the sisters and during the bus rides, the girls were so joyful and shared that joy with each other throughout the day.”


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