How a teacher at St. Polycarp School decided to choose religious life

By Gabriella Dominic     10/10/2019

Christina Perry is a middle school social science and religion teacher at St. Polycarp School in Stanton. She received her B.A. in History and her Single Subject Social Science Credential from California State University Fullerton. And recently she entered the Lovers of the Holy Cross convent.  

Perry, age 24, grew up in Orange County. She attended St. Pius V Catholic School in Buena Park and Cornelia Connelly High School in Anaheim. She held leadership positions in campus ministries at St. Pius V, Cornelia Connelly, and at Cal State Fullerton.  

“Being a cradle Catholic, my family has been a huge influence on my faith journey. Both my parents were dedicated to our education in the faith, taking us to Mass every Sunday, saying prayers as a family at night, enrolling us in Catholic schools, playing catechism games with us, and more,” shared Perry. “I think being at a Catholic School shaped my faith because it laid the foundation for it. The teachers I had were not just concerned with my intellectual capacity, but also my spiritual well-being. They inspired me by their care and faithfulness to become a teacher myself.” 

While studying to be a teacher, Perry deepened her faith in college with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionaries. She learned about knowing God personally and having a personal relationship with Christ. Perry started to pray for her vocation, at first to the married life. “However, last year, just as I was starting my first year teaching at St. Polycarp, several people made comments to me about how they thought I would make a good nun and that I should consider religious life,” said Perry. 

Perry initially resisted the idea of the possibility of religious life. However, she believes that God has a plan for her that will make her most fulfilled. When she later felt the calling to discern religious life, Perry took a leap of faith in trusting the Lord’s goodness. She had never heard of Lovers of the Holy Cross until the beginning of her teaching career at St. Polycarp with two Lovers of the Holy Cross sisters who are also teaching at the school.  

“They were always joyful, and friendly, so when Sr. Deliah invited me to visit their convent, I couldn’t refuse. I don’t think it was a coincidence that God placed both of the sisters and me at the same school. It is funny how God works his providence and really he was the one who chose this congregation for me,” said Perry.  

Diocese of Orange Delegate for Religious Life, Joan Patten, A.O., said, “Yes, God is still calling women and men [to the religious life] today.” 

In 2017, CARA, a national, nonprofit, Georgetown University-affiliated research center, conducted a study on Catholic Women in the United States: Beliefs, Practices, Experiences, and Attitudes. The study found that 13 percent of women between the ages of 18-35 had considered being a religious sister and after 50 years of decline, the number of young women discerning religious life is increasing. The average age for taking the final step into the religious life a decade ago was 40. Today, it’s 24. 

When asked on how the greater Catholic community can help women discern their vocation, Perry said: “What really helped me and what I think will help other women in discerning their vocation is having people talk about religious life with me. It is easy for us to see what married life is like because we see it in our own family, in the media, and all around us. Religious life, on the other hand, seems more mysterious. I know that I had my own misconceptions before joining. Being around sisters, visiting them, and talking with others about a religious vocation was helpful in making it seem more relatable. I think the greater Catholic community can help women with discerning their vocations by exposing them to what religious life is really like and encouraging them to know that religious life is a viable option for them. Simply talking about religious vocations more, especially with young people, is a helpful thing for sure.”