Responding To God’s Call

When many of us decide on a path in life, we tend to stick to it because we know it’s the right path for us. Some, however, think they are on the right path, but know deep in his or her heart, something is missing; we have another calling. This was the case for Shelly Pennefather. She knew she was meant to respond to God’s call.

Shelly Pennefather, recently profiled here, seemed to be on the path to becoming a prolific women’s basketball player. At the time she excelled on Villanova’s women’s team, there was no WNBA for her to matriculate into post-college. However, she was offered a position on a team overseas in Japan with a $200,000 contract. She was at the top of her game.

But, this wasn’t the life for her. She knew God was calling her. She loved missionary work. While on a retreat one year she read the following Bible verse, John 6:56: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” It was at this moment it completely clicked and she felt God beside her. 

A Cloistered Life

She turned her life over to God in response to His call on June 8,1991 at the Poor Clares monastery in Alexandria, VA. The ESPN article states, 

“The Poor Clare nuns enter this radical way of life because they believe that their prayers for humanity will help the suffering, and that their sacrifice will lead to the salvation of the world.”

At this monastery, Pennefather would live a cloistered life, sleep on a straw mattress, sleeping no more than four hours at a time and rising each night at 12:30 am to pray. Completely cut off from society, her family can visit twice a year through a see-through screen. She may write letters to family and friends, but on the condition they write her first. She may hug her family once every 25 years. This is life of sacrifice Shelly Pennefather so longed to live. 

Pennefather knew for much of her life God was calling her. It’s never too late to take a new path in life, and, it’s never too late in life to answer God’s call. God has a plan for each and every one of us. If you think God’s plan for you might be entering religious life, please contact Abbot Domenic A. Rossi for further information at or call 610-647-2530.