By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Her families, the one she was born into and the one she joined, celebrated together as Sister Lynn Mousel professed final vows May 7 with the Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM).
A 40-year-old child psychiatrist from Omaha, Neb., and the youngest member of the Sisters of Humility, Sr. Mousel hopes her story inspires other women to discern a vocation with the community she loves.
“I believe there are three things women religious have to offer the world today,” the soft-spoken Sister says on a YouTube video posted on the Humility of Mary’s website (www.chmiowa.org):
“A spirit of contemplation in a world of so many distractions, the emphasis on nonviolence in our violent world today, and also the example of people committed to one another in community.”
Her desire for a spirit of contemplation grew exponentially after meeting Humility of Mary Sister Marty Conrad during a vocation picnic in Kentucky where Sr. Conrad was serving the people of Appalachia. Mousel was in training in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Kentucky. After getting to know each other and becoming friends, the two women traveled to Davenport so Mousel could meet some of the Sisters from the CHM community.
“I found the Sisters to be so down-to-earth, yet intelligent and well educated,” she said.
Sr. Mousel shared details of her vocation story with Bishop Martin Amos as they waited outside the Magnificat Chapel before the liturgy at which he would preside and she would profess final vows.
She had chosen for the second reading a passage from Colossians (3:12-17) that begins, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another …”
In his homily, Bishop Amos reminded her that at her baptism, the priest or deacon would have said, “You have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ.”
Mary is often painted wearing a blue tunic with a red cloak and Jesus with a red tunic and a blue cloak; the blue symbolizes humanity and the red, divinity, the bishop observed. “Mary’s humanity is clothed in the red of divinity and Jesus’ divinity is clothed in the blue of our humanity …”
He encouraged Sr. Mousel to “continue to allow Jesus to put on your humanity … You will continue, I presume, to love science and medicine and children. You will continue to put your humanity at the service of Christ. You will, in effect, allow Christ to use your humanity to touch bodies and hearts of people, especially children and your Sisters in community.”
During her profession, Sr. Mousel vowed poverty, chastity and obedience for life “in the presence of God and the Congregation of the Humility of Mary assembled here.” She promised to be faithful to the spirit and goals of her religious community and asked Sister Mary Rehmann, the CHM president, to receive her vows. Following a solemn blessing by Bishop Amos and statement of admission, Sr. Rehmann told Sr. Mousel: “We confirm that you are now one with us as members of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, sharing all things in common with us now and in the future.”
At the end of Mass, Sr. Rehmann expressed gratitude for this “generous and courageous woman in our midst.” Like the other CHM members, she dares to follow Mary’s witness in responding to God’s call to religious life “when we don’t know what tomorrow brings … and yet trusting in a loving and faithful God “to provide all we need.”
Gary Mousel said he and the rest of his family are “very proud of Lynn. Her natural mother who died 20 years ago would be very proud. Her mother was a convert. She was a heavy influence through her example. Early on we recognized that Lynn had a special gift. We always thought the Holy Spirit was with her.”
Her father admitted it took time to get used to his daughter’s decision to enter religious life. But now, “I’m reassured that she’s found a good community. I can see a lot of dedication and a lot of talent,” he said.
“For me personally, in my ministry as a physician, medicine today has become so infiltrated by managed care and a business model,” Sr. Mousel said. “Being in religious life helps me to stay grounded in the midst of that and allows me to practice medicine from the heart.”
Ministry takes Sr. Mousel to Montana
Sister Lynn Mousel, CHM, will be moving to Great Falls, Mont., to start a new position as a psychiatrist with A.W.A.R.E. Inc., a statewide organization that serves those with developmental disabilities and with mental health issues in outpatient and group homes. She will also be experiencing community with other CHM Sisters who are ministering there.
The Sisters of Humility number 120 Sisters and 98 associates living and ministering in 19 states, Mexico and Canada.