By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

An extraordinary joy is evident in the voice of Sister Marie Trône du Roi SSVN, even from a distance spanning more than 1,000 miles.  

sister trone photo 2.tif

Equally discernable, however, is her powerful faith, one that has taken Brooke Bethea from the halls of St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge, to her life as Sister Trône, living a monastic lifestyle in Brooklyn, New York.  

Sister Marie Trône du Rol SSVN, left, and Father Brent Maher spend time together after Sister Trône professed her final vows as a Contemplative House of Formation nun Aug. 28 in Brooklyn, New York. Sister Trône is a native of Baton Rouge and a 2012 graduate of St. Michael High School, and Father Maher is pastor at St. Ann Church in Morganza. Photo provided by Sister Trône 

 

Sister Trône, a Baton Rouge native, professed her final vows Aug. 28 in Brooklyn as a Contemplative House of Formation nun, completing a seven-year formation traversing from Italy to Brooklyn, with stops in Maryland and Washington, D.C. She’s living a life she has dreamed about since she was in seventh grade when she first met several consecrated virgins while attending Cypress Heights Academy in Baton Rouge.  

“I saw that they were super happy even though they had given up everything for God,” said Sister Trône, who attended St. George School in Baton Rouge from pre-K through fifth grade. “I thought ‘I want that happiness.’ ” 

Sister Trône’s calling continued to blossom at St. Michael, where she was involved in campus ministry as well as planning the annual summer mission at Our Lady of Peace Church in Vacherie.  

Father Brent Maher, who has been a positive influence in Sister Trône’s life, said Sister Trône’s intensity in her love for Jesus and a desire to dedicate herself to him was obvious at an early age.  

“In youth group events, at Mass and in our meetings together there radiated from her a great  great love for Jesus and a purity that is unique in our age,” said  Father Maher, who first met Sister Trône when he was serving as parochial vicar at St. George and who would later serve as her spiritual director at St. Michael. “These were the clearest indicators that her vocation may well be a genuine one.”   

Father Brad Doyle was a lay teacher at St. Michael at that time and also took notice of Sister Trône’s deeply rooted faith.  

“Having Sister Trône in class as a sophomore was a joy,” said Father Doyle, currently parochial vicar at St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Church in Albany. “It was my first and only year teaching and was such a comfort to realize that there were young people who desired to follow God with all of their heart and were willing to make sacrifices if he was calling them to.”  

He recalls one particular day when he was practicing with the choir before Mass and Sister Trône was sitting away from the group working on something else. A bit perturbed, he asked her what she was doing.  

“She sheepishly lifted her head and said, ‘Oh sorry Mr. Doyle, I’m sewing my postulant’s habit for when I enter the convent,’ ” Father Doyle said. 

“Needless to say that was the only response that could get her out of trouble,” Father Doyle joked. “I let her sew and now we have a beautiful nun praying for us all.”  

Sister Trône, a 2012 St. Michael graduate, said she embraced Father Doyle’s encouragement because living one’s faith in high school can often be difficult and might even be questioned by elders.  

“I think something (adults) don’t see is that there are a lot of manifestations of vocations at an early age, because at an early age you are able to see and hear God’s voice better because it’s not (clouded) by sin,” she said.  

Sister Trône’s call is specific, falling in line with the mission of the 13-member Brooklyn community, which is to pray and sacrifice for priests. Each of the order’s 14 monasteries around the world pray for a specific devotion.  

She said praying for priests is important because they “are the link to so many souls. If I can pray for priests, I can save way more souls.” 

Also, the priest is “such an important person because he represents Jesus to us.”  

Because of that, she said the devil will tempt the one who is stealing souls from him.  

“So I felt called to be like Mary at the foot of the cross with Jesus, for me to be at the foot of the cross for every priest, because every priest has his Calvary. That was a very big part of my vocation to contemplative life,” she said. 

“I cannot be grateful enough to the Lord for the gift of Sister Trône and her vocation,” Father Maher, pastor at St. Ann Church in Morganza, said. “While she acknowledges my role in her own vocational path, I also recognize her role in mine as she has helped me to become a better priest and spiritual father by her presence and her prayers.” 

She admitted not many friends, except those closest to her, knew of her desire to enter into the monastic life, and from the outside it might have been a bit strange. But she has embraced her daily routine, which begins at 5 a.m., ends at 10 p.m., and includes several hours of prayer. The day is spent mostly in the Benedictine tradition of silence, eucharastic adoration and prayer, although Sister Trône is also an assistant in charge of the kitchen, even whipping up a Mardi Gras dinner earlier this year that consisted of jambalaya, hush puppies and king cake.  

“A lot of people think cloistered nuns don’t do anything but we run around with a very busy schedule,” she said. “I am not working for self or because someone told me to do it. I’m doing it because God is asking me to do this. I am doing it out of love for God. It’s beautiful.”  

She said the community enjoys two hours of recreation daily, which is important because it is a break from the silence. She also communicates with her family, which includes a younger brother, every couple of weeks via Skype. 

Where others might only see challenges, Sister Trône said she finds inspiration through the monastic life. She said that in everything she does, she is only “trying to love Jesus.” 

“There is an intent in everything that we do. In silence we are able to hear the voice of God better, get to know ourselves better, what we need to work on and what God is asking of us individually.”  

Although happy in her monastic life, Sister Trône said she “would not mind” if God calls her to an apostolic life, which would be serving outside of the monastery.  

“Ultimately, the most important thing to do is the will of God because that is the only way we are going to be happy,” she said. ” 

For now, Sister Trône has found a joy she first witnessed in the faces of consecrated virgins so many years ago.