If religious life of women were pictured as a flower garden, I believe that we would see the likes of which never existed. The beauty of the work done by women religious, I believe has no equal. Catholic colleges, high schools and grades schools pepper the U.S. as the result of the work of the Founders and Foundresses of our religious communities and our pioneer Sisters, many of whom came to the U.S. as missionaries, not even knowing English. The ministries they began in teaching and in healthcare took root in the soil of extreme poverty and, in some cases, the ultimate gift of giving their lives for the sake of the other. My own religious community began hospitals in abandoned saloons with little or no money and very few material possessions. Patients paid for medical attention by sometimes giving produce or farm animals. The Sisters of my community collected $5.00 from the lumberjacks of northern Wisconsin as insurance for medical assistance for one year.
Many of the healthcare institutions begun by my community in the early 1800’s are flourishing healthcare systems to this very day. As of 2002 there are 625 catholic healthcare systems in the U.S.--all because of the sacrifices of women who would do anything for their Bridegroom. Nothing was beyond their willingness to help others in need. The same is true women religious of other congregations. Many began educational institutions that are thriving to this very day. As of 2014, there are 244 Catholic Universities; 6,594 Catholic schools: 5,399 elementary; 1,195 secondary. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and orphanages in the early days of our Foundations also blanketed the U.S. because of the sacrifices of women religious.
As in the past, today the Lord continues to call young women to consecrate their lives to Him and continue the incredible work of healing, teaching and aiding the poor of this day and age in whatever way the Spirit directs.