A HIGHER CALLING
Anne Yoches discovers gratification and joy as a Franciscan sister
It doesn’t seem typical for a relationship to end with the guy telling his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend that she’d make a great nun, but that happened to Anne Yoches, former UDM basketball player and 2001 UDM graduate.
“My boyfriend didn’t fight me on the break up,” said Yoches of her 14-month relationship. “He said the Lord was telling him to let go of me because I was supposed to be a nun.”
Yoches, who grew up in Dearborn, Mich., has eight years to determine if she wants to be a nun and consecrated religious sister for the rest of her life. In August 2009, she entered the Franciscan Sisters, TOR of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother in Steubenville, Ohio. Before then, she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in sports medicine and worked as a strength and conditioning coach with the athletes at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to metro Detroit and opened her own training facility in Wixom called Total Performance Training Center.
Going from entrepreneurial sports trainer to a sister in training, didn’t happen overnight explains Yoches. In fact, she didn’t give much thought to the fact that UDM was a Catholic college. The extent of her faith came from attending student masses on Sunday night. Reflecting on her college influences, she credits Sr. Beth Finster, Sr. Maureen Fay and Fr. Gerald Cavanagh for being good examples. “I guess I had them in my rearview mirror the whole time,” said Yoches.
Not until 2004, when she first went on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy did she begin to wonder about her future as a sports trainer.
“As I watched the nuns come out of the Basilica of Saint Clare, I heard the Lord say to me, ‘you could do this, you should do this,’” said Yoches. “I wasn’t living my life that way, so I was shocked. But I knew I had to check it out because the thought of a vocation began to tug on my heart. Up until then, I lived a partying lifestyle with my friends.”
Three years later, she attended a Festival of Praise at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, which is a monthly event where approximately 800 young people gather to sing and pray together. When students were praying with her there, she felt the Lord asking her to be His bride again.
“You have to be in such a prayerful position to hear the Lord because our world is so crazy and loud,” said Yoches. “Learning about God was more prevalent in the 1950s and ’60s. Back then everyone went on retreats to entertain religious life as a possible option. Nowadays, these opportunities have to be sought out by the individual, because getting to know who God is has been pushed aside.”
She visited many orders to find out which group would be a good fit for her. The Franciscan Sisters appealed the most to Yoches because of the spirit of the sisters’ prayer and their devotion to serving the community with a variety of ministries.
“Today’s religious sister is joyful, faithful to the Pope and totally excited to work for the Lord,” said Yoches.
Yoches and three other women entered the order on Aug. 8, 2009, bringing very little possessions with them. They are in the formation phase, so they are praying for five hours a day and their classes, taught by the older sisters, focus on St. Francis of Assisi and the catechism of the Catholic Church. Yoches also works five hours a day, either helping around the monastery, talking to the spiritually poor, attending retreats, or helping at nursing homes or the soup kitchens. To adjust to this lifestyle, in the first six months, she was allowed to go out every Friday night for dinner or ice cream or go to the movies. After that, outings are reduced to every other week, then once a month, then not at all.
“I don’t feel different—my personality will never change. I don’t feel like I’ve changed, except becoming more the person God has created me to be,” said Yoches. “I’m definitely learning how to live with other people and be much more caring and giving because I have 18 sisters to live with in the Formation House.”
Yoches will reach significant milestones on her journey to taking her vows, in which she will then become a bride of Christ. At any juncture before final vows she can leave the order. At the same time, the sisters are making sure Yoches is right for them.
The quiet and solitude of preparing to be a sister is a stark contrast to a loud workout facility but it’s a desire the Lord has placed on her heart, said Yoches.