POSTED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 10:53pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 10:19pm
Longview, TX (KETK) — Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Marshall, you will find "The Daughters of Divine Hope;” a religious community for women who are "discerning a call to consecrated life."
Inside you will find Mother Susan Catherine the Foundress of the Daughters of Divine Hope; but this isn't your ordinary religious community of nuns.
The daughters of divine hope are different.
Unlike other convents, these daughters are older, been married, are widows and have children.
"In the early Christian church the first forms of consecrated life were older widows that women who were dedicated to the service of the church they helped the apostles, the helped the disciples, they took care of the young girls and the daughters of divine hope kind of opens that opportunity," says Father Gavin Vaverek, Chaplain of the Daughters of Divine Hope.
Mother Susan Catherine was looking for that opportunity.
Before professing her temporary vows in November 2011 Mother Susan Catherine was better known as Susan Kennedy, former Nacogdoches County judge.
Moving to Nacogdoches in 1984 Kennedy had a successful political and professional career serving two terms as county judge.
In 2007 she had a life changing experience when her husband died.
A Deacon of the church Susan drove to Tyler in February 2008 to meet with the bishop to donate some of her husband’s belongings.
During a lunch meeting the seed of what would later become the Daughters of Divine Hope was planted.
"I mentioned to him (the bishop) I thought briefly about going into religious life but in my research i discovered there weren't any religious communities that time that would take older women. By older women I mean really over the age of 40 even though i was much older than that,” Mother Susan Catherine says. “He said have you ever considered becoming a Foundress and I said I don't know what you mean bishop and he said a Foundress is a woman who begins a religious community and I think you may be called to do that," added Mother Susan Catherine.
The next 18 months Kennedy kept coming to a fork in the road.
On one side was a possible run at national or state office.
The other a path to serve the lord.
"I would definitely call it a calling from God. I wouldn't have called it that a couple years ago but in working through it in prayer and seeing God, being open to seeing God work in my day to day life and how he has provided for me all along the way and this community I have no doubt this is what God is asking us to do,” Mother Susan Catherine said.
Choosing the path the lord sent her in November 2010 the Daughters of Divine hope was established under church law and Susan Kennedy moved into an abandoned convent in Marshall.
During the next year Kennedy was withdrawn to the outside world and had to rely on the lord for all her needs.
"I didn't go shopping. I didn't go to the bank. I didn't go to the post office. People that I didn't know began to show up providing food. People that I didn't know showing up to offer help or take care of whatever needs I possibly had," Mother Susan Catherine tells KETK.
After a year of being withdrawn in November 2011 Susan Kennedy professed her first temporary vows and received her habit.
Since then vision of the Daughters of Divine Hope has come into focus for Mother Susan Catherine.
A place for older women to profess vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and fidelity and to provide hope not only for East Texas but for the world.
"And god saying all the way to the last minute your life has value there is something wonderful coming about and I have a purpose for each soul and each person in my plan for salvation,” said Mother Susan Catherine.
Mother Susan Catherine will profess her final vows next November and hopes to open a new mother house in Tyler in the near future.
For more information on the Daughters of Divine hope you can visit their website by clicking here.