The following article is part a series of sisters’ interviews conducted by MSBT staff writer Mary Jean Torpey.
The first time I met Sr. Grace Raymond Tighe, MSBT was when she came to be interviewed as part of this series. I wanted to hear her story of vocation discernment and learn more about her rich life as an MSBT sister. Having known many of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, I was not surprised at Sr. Grace Raymond’s soft spoken nature and patience as I looked for the recording app on my phone. We were in the parlor of the MSBT Motherhouse in Northeast Philadelphia. It is a smaller room with comfy chairs and side tables; the perfect setting to curl up with a good book or to hear about a woman who has dedicated her life to glorify our Triune God by her service as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity.
My questions started from the beginning, “When and how did you first feel a call to religious life?” Sr. Grace Raymond first felt this call to religious life at her First Holy Communion when she was seven years old. She did not feel scared or concerned at the thought of entering religious life, but rather happy. Her only concern was the responsibility she felt towards her family, to help send her younger sister to school. Thankfully, with the positive support of her parents, this concern did not last and did not interfere with Sr. Grace Raymond achieving her dream of serving God in this way. Before entering the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, she did administrative work as a clerk in a hospital after graduating from High School.
Sr. Grace Raymond grew up surrounded by the example of many women religious in her young life. There were six different communities of sisters serving in her parish and high school. It was the joy, spirituality and friendliness of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity that drew her to this particular community. She recognized that the sisters always found a way to help others in need. She believed strongly in the apostolic work done in this community, especially their mission to serve the poor and abandoned. Among the greatest blessings of her life as an MSBT has been the beautiful integration of spiritual and missionary lifestyle.
Over the years, Sr. Grace Raymond has served in a variety of missions from Alabama to Mexico. While working in Mexico, a typical day began quite early, around 5:30 a.m. The day would start with meditation, prayer and Mass. From there she would visit homes, be a part of small communities of faith and share the gospel with lay people. The sharing of the gospel would include a lesson and gathering complete with the sharing of food. It was during her time in Mexico that Sr. Grace Raymond witnessed a great deal of poverty. When I asked what was some of her favorite or most meaningful work she has done, she shared that is was this work in Mexico, because she was able to be among the poor. She also said that she enjoyed her work in the Vocation and Formation Ministry and found her work in a school in Phenix city to be very peaceful. She has found that when you are helping others, you are helping yourself. To quote Sr. Grace Raymond, “you receive much more than you ever give.” She also shared that it teaches you how others relate to God, and through it God helps you grow.
However, life as a sister has not been one without difficulty. When asked what the most difficult aspect of her work has been, Sr. Grace Raymond said it was finding people that she couldn’t really help, whatever the situation may be. Circumstances that involved poverty highlighted limitations, but it would always bring her back to prayer and remind her of its importance. When asked what the most rewarding aspect of her work has been, she stated it was bringing others closer to God and seeing that they can go on without the help of the sisters.
While our interview was wrapping up I wanted to learn more about Sr. Grace Raymond’s interests and hobbies. She shared with me that she enjoys reading and especially has enjoyed playing sports. Basketball is her favorite, but she also has played volleyball and baseball. Lastly, I asked if there was any advice she would give to women considering religious life. She advises coming, putting yourself fully into the experience and letting the Lord lead you. She ended the interview by saying it has been a privilege to be a sister and is very happy with her life. She laughed at this comment, saying it was very simple and hoped it would be enough for me to write this article. I assured her that though her answers were simple, they were honest, to the point and gave great insight to those that may be considering religious life.