Patricia Ballard

Patricia Ballard

January 25, 2016
JOSH TNG
THE B. C. CATHOLIC

VANCOUVER - A group of women have heard the call to consecrate themselves to Christ, but not as religious.

"It's a specific calling, though not a call to the religious or monastic life. Women who are called to be Daughters of the Church are not called to be anything but themselves," said Patricia Ballard.

Before founding the group, Ballard applied to various monasteries. "They told me I wasn't called to the cloistered life."

Ballard did not give up hope. "I still wanted to be religious, so I took a private vow to remain in the world, but be dedicated to the Lord."

Her private vow of chastity did not remain private, however. A group of women heard of her vow and were inspired to do the same.

"We eventually evolved into a group of laywomen who have taken the same vow," Ballard said. "I was under the spiritual discernment that yes, we were being called to consecrated life, but I was unsure what form it would take."

After praying and reading Vita Consecrata, an apostolic exhortation by St. John Paul II, Ballard realized there was a need for new forms of consecrated life. She formed the Daughters of the Church with the help of Father John Horgan under the authority of the archbishop.

"As a group of non-religious Catholic women, we live among the world, but still fill our daily responsibilities of prayer," Ballard said. "We have a lot of freedom to become who we are called to be, which is different from monastic life."

Ballard paints sacred art, while applying it to her religious journey. "As a professional artist, my work has always dealt with the sense of sacredness in 'self' and the holiness of life. I seek the expression of spiritual love.

"Many women have been living our life for a long time," said Ballard. "I'd like them to know they are not alone, and they can grow in spirituality with our community."

The Daughters welcome women of all ages, Ballard said. "It's very affirming, and you feel a solidarity with your fellow sisters. We support each other and talk about our spiritual journey."

One of these women, Mary Waung, heard of the group while participating in the Mass for people in consecrated life.

FORGOTTEN CALL

"At the time, I, a 57-year-old widow, had forgotten completely that God had called me to religious life more than five decades ago," said Waung. "I decided to join this community because I was like a fish that finally swam into its own school of fish."

Despite being a diverse group, all members of the community are called to the same vocation, Waung said.

"The community of daughters are women from different professional and ethnic backgrounds, interests, age, mother tongue," she said. "We have the common goal of being called by the Lord to be a lay woman living in the world consecrated to God."

SAME JOURNEY

They meet at least once a month and share a meal. "We are companions on the same journey who regard, as above all, God's will and the love of his glory," Waung said.