The following is an article from yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday.
There are, as ever, a few inaccuracies, obviously the part about not having to do a postulancy and novitiate is wrong. Also it wasn’t the pro-life initiative which was new but the ‘sisters’.
Other than that it’s fairly positive and it was great to have it included in such a major article about 30 something women.
I’m like any other 30-something – there’s just a shift of priority
Sister Andrea Fraile, 32, works for the pro-life initiative in Glasgow.
I’D BEEN thinking about religious life since I was 14. I studied Spanish and philosophy at Glasgow University and did a postgrad, but it was still on my mind. I lived in Edinburgh for a while and worked in publishing, during which time I met a woman who was working for the pro-life initiative and thought I’d try it too. In 2000, at the age of 25, we started up a community with another Sister and have been living in Glasgow’s Southside ever since. Had I joined any other order, I would have undergone a postulancy (a year’s trial period) and a novitiate (another two to four years) first. But because the pro-life initiative was new, I didn’t have to.
Sister Andrea Fraile.
Picture: Robert Perry
We work in a pregnancy crisis centre. Women who are pregnant phone or come to us from all over the country and we try to sort out their problems – be it a violent partner or dodgy housing – and help them to see there’s an alternative to having an abortion.
There was an element of risk in deciding to become a nun, but we all take risks – when you get married you’re committing yourself to one man. When I entered religious life, I thought, “Is this a crazy thing to do? Am I running away from something?” But you absolutely have to question yourself. And just as you have all sorts of romantic notions about how married life will be, the reality is different. It can be a struggle, but I see it as a challenge.
Growing up, thinking about religious life didn’t stop me fancying folk and thinking about marriage. At university I had a boyfriend for nearly four years. He was Catholic as well and our faith meant a lot to us. At times I think I live on another planet, but on a deeper level I am very much like any other 30-something woman. It’s just there’s a shift of priority and my days are more structured for prayer.
My parents live in Glasgow and I see them every couple of weeks. I’ve always had a good relationship with them and they’ve always been supportive. When I said I wanted to do this they were less delighted, not for themselves but for me. Early on, though, they saw that I was very content and their fears have been alleviated. You do get people who shake their heads and say it is a waste, but I don’t believe it is. You give your life to Christ – that’s not a waste. Sex obviously won’t be a feature of my life but I’m still a sexual being, and while there is an element of sacrifice, I’m not shutting off my sexuality, just channelling it in another way.
I’m not naive. I’m conscious of the fact I’m 32 and this won’t be magic forever; at some stage I’ll think I could have got married and had kids. But I have to trust God will see me through those times. If I have an ambition, it is that – to be more centred on Christ, so that age won’t really affect me. I’ll get old, wrinkly, haggard, knackered and maybe a wee bit crabbit – but hope that I can still be youthful in spirit.