The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Sister Jannette Marie Pruitt, who is now a nun, but also the mother of three, grandmother of seven, great-grandmother of two, and one of two black Catholic nuns in the order of the Sisters of St. Francis.
She was educated by nuns and always active in her parish, even as she got older. Pruitt knew she wanted to become a nun when she was younger, but growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s her race was a factor and she was discouraged from joining an order.
When she was 47, she reconsidered this calling. At first, she thought it was a crazy dream, but when she saw an announcement in her parish bulletin calling for members of the black community who were interested in religious life to attend a weekend retreat and meet different orders. She went and spoke with Sister Marge Wissman who is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.
She explored other orders as well, but eventually she knew she had found the right fit with them, explaining, “The Sisters of St. Francis were very fun-loving and outgoing,”
The process of becoming a nun took years, which was good, says Sister Jannette, because she needed time to adjust to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She explained she needed to adjust her lifestyle a bit because she loved shoes, clothes, and spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but she gained much more than she gave up.
She is now a coordinator of the Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which helps organize programs for black Catholics. She also sits on the board of the National Black Sisters’ Conference and was twice nominated for the Harriet Tubman award, honoring a sister who is “Moses of Her People.”
The balance between religious life and family life may seem daunting to some, but Sister Jannette finds joy in both, saying, “I have two vocations. My life is full.”