Called: Sister Bridget Miller
Called: To Love
He wanted his girls to be nuns
I came from a very large family. There were eight of us at the time when I entered the community. My mother had children—five boys and five girls. She believed in keeping things even in life. My mother had a lot of wisdom. Something very important in our family was that we knew what was expected of us and we received a solid education: Catholic grade school, Catholic high school and those that went on to college, a number of them were in a Catholic university. So our spiritual life was built on what my mother and father had to teach us and what we learned in school, about our faith.
Our faith was very strong and from the very early age I had learned that my dad’s sister raised him—from the time he was three years old. His mother had passed away and she was in eighth grade at the time and she took care of him and gave up going to school. When my dad was 28 years old he married my mother and on their wedding day she said to my mother, “He’s now your responsibility. I’m going to the convent.” And because she was in her thirties, she had to go away from Pittsburgh because none of the communities in Pittsburgh would take anybody beyond 30 years of age. They had a cut-off. She was taken by the Benedictine sisters in Alabama and my dad often talked about her and she was like my dad’s mother because from when he was a little boy, she was the one who was always there, and he always said that he wanted all of his girls to be nuns.
Little pink rosaries
When I was ready to start first grade, she had sent a letter and in that letter, she had taped to the page a little pink rosary, five or six inches long, and my dad was taking me on a streetcar to get a pair of shoes for first grade and we had to stop at the mailbox. Before we got on the streetcar, he picked up the mail and this letter was there from his sister and as we were sitting on the streetcar he opened it and he took the rosary out and handed it to me. He said, “This is for you.” He explained to me that my aunt had sent it because she wanted me to have it when I started school. So from that time when I was very small, I said to my dad and to my mother, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a sister like Aunt Christina and I’m going to give little pink rosaries to little girls,” and that was my theme throughout school. I get teased in community today. People ask me, “How many pink rosaries have you handed out since that day?” I can’t count how many I’ve given you.
I fell in love
When I was in college, one professor said to me, “What made you become a religious? Why did you enter a religious community?” I thought for a moment and I said, “I fell in love.” He looked at me and he said, “Of course you did. I really believe that.” and I thought, “It really was true.” It was a love that I had for the ministry of the work that the sisters did, and also a love for our Lord himself. I wanted to give my life to the Lord.
Every time I told my mother I wanted to go to the convent, she’d say, “You’re too young. You don’t even know what you’re doing in life yet. You have to learn what life’s about.” Then I’d start to cry. I said, “You don’t understand.” And she’d say, “Yes, I do understand. You’ve never been away from home. How are you going to go live?” And I’d say, “If you would only let me go, I would feel like I’m in heaven.” She looked at me, and she said, “You know what? You’re going to go live with a group of women. You think they’re all saints. You’re going to find out sooner or later that they have their weaknesses and their faults just like everybody else.” When I look back on that now, as a grown woman, my mother had such good philosophy that I never appreciated at the time she was telling me that. She did make me wait until I was at least 16.
For the rest of my life
I was 16 years old when I entered and that was a blessing. Did I ever regret it? The thought went through my head many times: “Are you really doing what’s right? Is this really what God wants from you?” When it came to the day of final profession and I had to say, “for the rest of my life,” my body started to quiver. I was shaking so much, and what was ringing in my head was, “You’re doing this for the rest of your life. Do you realize what you’re doing?” I had to grab my finger and hold it, because it was shaking so hard, so the bishop could put the ring on my finger. After that, it never bothered me.
My mother used to say, “If I’d let you go when you wanted to, you would’ve been home the next week because you’d never been away from home and you would’ve been homesick,” and she was right. Every time I’d get a letter, I’d cry. My mother could not understand the crying. The day that we were coming here, it was late at night. Back in 1950 we did not have a car and my brother’s girlfriend’s uncle owned a driving school, and he was going to bring us. We had no telephone at our house. Finally, he showed up at 8 o’clock and he was all apologetic because they got out-of-town visitors, unexpectedly, so we arrived here and the sisters were coming out of prayer time at 9 o’clock. I walked in the front door. The night bell rang, and there was total silence because the day was over. Because it was such a special night, the superior and a couple of the other people came into this room and we sat here for a while and they did talk but when my mother walked out that door, it was silent.
They showed me to my room and that was the first night. I cried that night and I cried all the way from West Mifflin to here but I got a letter from my mother about a week later and she said, “I want to know, why did you cry when we were driving you there? It made it look like I was sending you there, not that you wanted to go there, but that I said you had to go there.” I cried because I knew in my heart that this was it, that I was leaving home, and I was giving my life, at that moment, for the rest of my life. It was a commitment that I was already making. But she didn’t understand.
Something other than what everyone expected of me
I was the oldest girl in the family. I was a little bit of a tomboy. I wanted to be like my brothers. If they were playing baseball, I wanted to play baseball. My brothers had to let me play, but they tried to make it like I was a dumb girl. I loved to watch them play football. Even to this day I just love those things.
Most of my ministry was in the field of education, teaching home economics. Those were my gifts. I was always good in designing and clothing. To this day, I help to design and to clothe the kings at the crèche downtown.
My life has been a very interesting one. I don’t think there have been two years that have been the same. The community has provided a lot of education that I would not have had. I had many opportunities to be something other than what everyone expected of me.