A HIGHER CALLING
Sr. Andrea Hooper finds fulfillment and a second vocation as a Dominican nun
Sr. Andrea Hooper, a 2007 UDM graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and put her talents into practice in the corporate world at URS Corporation before deciding to join the religious community of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Although she was proud of her accomplishments at URS Corporation, (Sr. Andrea participated in the redevelopment of a vital pedestrian bridge in a Detroit neighborhood called Mexicantown) she began to wonder if work was all she had left to look forward to.
“I didn’t know what my vocation was, marriage or religious life,” said Sr. Andrea. “My options were wide open at that point, and I left it in God’s hands.”
Her realization of her vocation was very gradual. She grew up Catholic in Buffalo, New York where her dad, a 1981 graduate of University of Detroit, was a deacon. As a result of her involvement with UDM’s University Ministry, she attended World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005. There, she saw the Pope and met the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist for the first time. She talked with them many times during the pilgrimage.
“It was the first time I saw sisters in full habit and who were joyful witnesses to their choices and vocations. It made me pray about my own vocation,” said Sr. Andrea.
Sr. Andrea’s next step would be the realization that God had been giving her clues all along the way. One sign came when a cardinal spoke at World Youth Day in Australia in July 2008, Sr. Andrea’s second pilgrimage. In his address to an audience of 200,000, he encouraged listeners to not spend their life sitting on the fence and to make a choice. The cardinal continued, “It’s only in making commitments that you find fulfillment.” These words spoke to Sr. Andrea’s heart. From that moment on, she began to seriously think about being a sister.
She joined her order in August 2009 along with 16 other women. She attends classes at the Motherhouse where she studies the beliefs of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. She’s learning about scripture and the spirituality of the Dominicans and their customs. The Ann Arbor location where she resides was founded in 1997 by four sisters. Now, there are 98 of them with an average age of 26 years old. Their apostolate is to teach grades
pre-kindergarten through 8th grade at two private Catholic schools in the area. Eventually, Sr. Andrea will take college courses to earn a teaching degree but during formation, she will wake up at 5 a.m., do chores around the house, study and pray in the chapel. Recreation time includes playing basketball, soccer or ice skating on the pond. The biggest adjustment is that she participates while wearing her white shirt, blue skirt, vest and habit, the outfit of a postulant.
“We do everything as a community,” said Sr. Andrea, who regards this as a modern life without all of the distractions of the busy world.
Because she is in formation, she is learning to rebalance and be in communication with each other. Sr. Andrea said that being a nun in this century is different than that of a few decades ago because she is older, 24, and she already experienced the working world and all it had to offer her.
“The formation period is to learn what it means to be a Dominican,” said Sr. Andrea. “I am focusing my life on God and doing His will in each moment of life.”
Sr. Andrea believes that younger people are beginning to listen and respond to the call, but she strongly encourages everyone to stop, and take time to listen to God through daily prayer.