Fresco Words in Cloistered Places

Sr. Lucia Talks About Chosing the Monastic Life

black and white photograph of Sr. Lucia WileyI'm sure it was the discipline of fresco painting which gave me the little quiet hours there at the wall. I'm sure that's it. It was some of that discipline that gave me time to meditate and to think...I'd always been interested in religion. The Presbyterian church just didn't provide, oh, the mystical side that I was discovering, nor the worship side that I was discovering. It had its own gifts, intellectual gifts which were very wonderful, but it didn't have these other qualities, was just a natural leading through...I read everything I could find on religion, all the different religions. I was interested, I had many friends that we talked with in college. I lived on the University of Minnesota campus for ten years after I graduated, and...I had a friend there with whom I lived, a dear friend who was an Episcopalian, and she didn't do anything to force me into it, but I saw she had something know.... Then when I won this job to go back to Tillamook and paint (the "Captain Gray" mural in 1943), I was still living with her, and so just to be nice to her, because it was our last few days together, I went to church with her. And I knew then, this is the church where I will feel it's right. And so I asked her what to do next, and she said that I'd have to find a priest. It scared me to death.... So I went to Tillamook, and there was a priest there, and I got confirmed. He didn't contribute anything to my knowledge; he left the church in a short while, but I was in solid by then, with the church.

I think that painting fresco and the discipline of it, and the studies of these things...I began to want more quiet and more meditation and also, although I had this wonderful job at the museum, it was just a fine job. I had time to do my own painting all on the side.... And good people, and good everything about it. And I had the Episcopal church there, and I had a lovely home I had bought, but this wasn't enough...there was something more that I was hungry for, and it just grew about gradually.

Interview ©1996 Karen Ellis; used by permission
Transcribed by Emily Frank; edited by Joe Beine

Photograph courtesy of the Community of the Holy Spirit, New York