Join us as a Sister
As Sisters Hospitallers, we actualise the healing message of Jesus. Inspired by the message of the Gospel, and by the infinite love of our founders, we go beyond boundaries in order to show compassion and care to those most in need. We are actively seeking young women to join our Congregation. Young women who are bold enough to let themselves be carried by their hearts. Young women who would never pass by on the other side of the road as their fellow man lay in need of help.
Sister Isabel Canton
“Part of being a Sister Hospitaller is seeing Jesus in everyone. This is something that I believe strongly, and that informs everything I do as a Sister. We are God’s hands and God’s heart. Through us, He touches the world and shows His love to its people.” I made the decision to become a nun at quite a young age, when I was living in my hometown in the north of Spain. It’s easy to forget the deep spiritual life of young people, the love they can have for the Lord. But when you look at the vocation of Jeremiah, for example, he was very young when the Lord sent him on a mission and he answered, “But I am only a child.” We also see this in Samuel when he heard God calling him when he was just a boy. That’s how it was with me. I just knew.
We cannot underestimate the spirituality and the relationship children can have with the Lord. “So I went through the proper steps. At the age of 13 I went to a school where I would discover if I had a vocation for the religious life. Then I was sent to a Noviciate here in England where I studied theology and spirituality and was introduced into the way of life of the Sisters Hospitallers through the study of the Constitutions.
I then took my vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in 1972 and five years later I did my last Profession in Spain. When I came back from Spain in 1977, I studied nursing and since then, I have spent more than 40 years working in different places to spread the Good News of the Gospel through the work of Hospitality.
I have never had the slightest doubt that I made the right choice. The sense of emptiness I sometimes felt before coming into religious life, it went away and has never come back. Instead, I sing. I walk the halls of the centre where I work, and I sing. I love singing as I work or as I walk around. People always comment on it, and I say ‘I prefer to be happy.’ If I am ever feeling a bit down, I just help other people and I feel lifted up.
And I have learned so much from the people I have helped. One resident I looked after in our home in London had been a piano teacher at the Royal College of Music. At the end of her life she had some degree of dementia and was also deaf and partially blind. She used to wander about, very disorientated. One day I sat her at the piano in the sitting room. She put her hands on the keys but did not play. Instead, she cried. That moved me a lot and I asked her if she wanted to teach me music. I did it to uplift her, as I never thought I would learn. But she taught me for the last two years of her life. And I did learn! We did eight books together! She also taught me to play the organ. Eventually she passed away, and my first public performance was playing the organ at her funeral. I did this to help her, but in reality it was she who helped me more.
Why do I do it? I will tell you a story. One elderly resident had very advanced Alzheimers. She never spoke. I was in her room one day giving her breakfast. I felt a little bit down, a bit tearful. Suddenly, she looked right at me and said, “Thank you.” In that moment, I could see that Jesus was talking to me through her. That’s why I do this work. His Spirit is in everybody. I believe very strongly that what we do to others, we do to Him and ultimately this is what we are going to be judged on as He told us in the Gospel: “come because I was hungry and you gave me food, I was sick, I was in prison, I was lonely… and you helped me.” Through Hospitality and through doing good for others, we are not just enriching lives, we are exalting Him. I love it.”
If you are interested in pursuing this vocation, in living a life rich in purpose, warmth and community, please contact Sr Isabel Cantón in Addleston, who would be happy to talk to you in more depth.