Catholic Anchor Online reports that 31-year-old Tara Clemens, who co-founded the female-run law firm of Helzer-Clemens LLC in Anchorage, Alaska, is preparing to take the next step towards entering the Dominican Order and becoming a cloistered nun. Clemens has already completed what is called an aspirancy, which consisted of a month-long visit to the Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, California, in February 2010. She is now preparing to enter what is called a postulancy, which would be Clemens’ second step in the eight-year discernment process toward taking final, life-long vows as a cloistered nun.
According to this separate August 5th Catholic Anchor article (which also triggered a short thread on Free Republic), this was neither a snap decision nor has it been an easy process. Tara Clemens was raised as an Evangelical Protestant. She was working full-time and attending law school, but she wasn’t much involved in a faith community. The summer before her final year in school, she took stock of her life and realized she wasn’t where God wanted her to be. So she asked the Lord to show her what church He wanted her join. Shortly thereafter, a coworker invited her to Mass. In the process of trying to "evangelize" her co-worker out of Catholicism, Clemens actually became more attracted to Catholicism; you could say the hunter got captured by the game. After graduating from law school, Clemens moved to Alaska, studied for the bar exam and began the official steps to become Catholic. She became active at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.
While Clemens is happy about a possible religious calling, she acknowledged that it won’t come without sacrifice — including of marriage and children. But she has accepted the need for such sacrifice, and even after she becomes a cloistered nun, friends and family will be allowed to visit her at the monastery. Already Clemens faces some opposition from her Protestant family, who oppose her investigation into religious life. But a greater hurdle is the need to completely discharge her school debt before entering her postulancy. Clemens has been working to meet those obligations, and is also connected to the Labouré Society, a non-profit organization that raises funds to help would-be religious resolve school debt. She hopes to pay off the debt by June 2011; tax-deductible contributions may be made to the Labouré Society in honor of Tara Clemens at labouresociety.org/. Tara also tells more of her story at the following link:
Contrary to popular misconception, the nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery aren't a bunch of wallflowers and losers who all look like clones of Linda Kellen Biegel. They hail from various backgrounds; many are college-educated and before the monastery, enjoyed professional careers. They are ordinary ladies who've responded to a call to an extraordinary vocation. While they focus on a life of contemplation, work, and silence, there is manual work to be done - for example, cleaning, cooking, sewing, and the packaging and shipping of Altar Breads, and they share the fruits of their contemplation through letters and parlor visits, and also through their artistic talents such as poetry, painting, photography, or doll-making. You can read stories about the individual nuns HERE.
With her combination of beauty and brains, Tara Clemens could not only write her own ticket in the business world, but have her pick of the litter in terms of a husband. Yet she's on the verge of indefinitely deferring those opportunities to serve the Lord. Through our limited mortal perspective, we might consider it a waste. But if we reach out for a greater divine perspective, we can see it takes incredible courage to make such a decision. Our Heavenly Father will suitably reward her for such a sacrifice if she follows through.