Sister Grace Malaney
My family was not Catholic. My parents came from a Baptist background, but we did not participate in a formal church. I was the youngest and had a brother and a sister. When I was ready for second grade, my parents (mostly my mother because my father was serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII) decided to send me and my older sister to a Catholic grade school, as it had a really good reputation. The minute I saw my teacher, a Dominican Sister in full habit, I decided that I wanted to be a sister too. My sister also started in Catholic school, and after a couple years when she was in the seventh grade, asked if she could be baptized a Catholic. My parents were ok with that, so she entered the Church. I remember being envious of her new white rosary and pearl-covered First Communion Prayerbook with golden-edged pages!
When my father got out of the U.S. Navy in 1946 after World War II, we moved to California. I attended Catholic schools in Hawthorne, Lennox, Inglewood, and then in Los Angeles which was staffed by Franciscans. By this time, I was in the fifth grade. One day, my teacher asked if anyone wanted to become a Catholic. I was the only one who raised a hand. I think it was a set-up. Then we moved again. At the new school in Los Angeles, I asked for baptism again. I asked my parents if I could take special instructions on Saturdays in order to be baptized. They explained that it was my decision and would become my responsibility to do all that the Church asked. So when I was 11 years old, I became a Catholic, and would attend Mass every Sunday by myself, because my sister had moved back to Kansas City. My brother had joined the Air Force.
Soon after that, we moved back to the Kansas City area, and I finished grade school with Sisters of St. Joseph as my teachers, and then attended a high school taught by Benedictines. I was very shy and switching to so many different elementary schools had made me even more so. I didn’t know when I was ever going to share with anyone my desire to become a sister.
So I devised this plan: during my freshman year, I would pray about it; during my sophomore year, I would share my desire in confession to a priest; during junior year, I would tell one of my Benedictine teachers, and during my senior year, I would tell my parents. Well, thoughts about my vocation stayed with me during those four years, but I got to the end of my senior year and I had taken only the first step in my plan. I had prayed a lot. In late May, the school band of which I was a member – I played the slide trombone – took a field trip to Atchison, Kansas to play and march at the monastery of Benedictine women called Mount St. Scholastica. After our performance, a sister approached me, Sister Mary David who taught at my high school, but whom I had never had as a teacher, and asked if I wanted to go see the Mother Superior about entering the convent. I replied “Yes” without any hesitation. Dressed in my band uniform and carrying my slide trombone, I had my interview with Mother Alfred, and she said I could come on June 13, less than a month away!
I went home and that night told my parents what I wanted to do. They asked if I was sure and I said yes. They told me that they wanted me to be happy, and if that was what I really wanted to do, it would bring happiness to them also. So I entered the Benedictine community of Mount St. Scholastica on June 13, 1953. I was 16, but just a month from turning 17.
In my religious life, I have taught in primary, middle, secondary, and college levels. Also I served in Brazil as a missionary for about 8 years. I am now living at our home monastery in Atchison and help serve in the Business Office among other tasks assigned to me.
What I love the most about this life in community is praying together at our morning and evening prayer.