Elmhust Woman Answers 'Unexpected Calling'

Lisa Fielding
September 06, 2019 - 10:12 am
Jess Lambert

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Jess Lambert spent her Sundays as a child at church.

"My family went to mass on the weekends. But it was my grandmother that had a big influence on me," Lambert recalls.

Lambert graduated from high school in Elmhurst and attended the University of Illinois. It was there, she said, she realized she might want to change her life's path.

"I was an engineering and math major. I always knew I wanted to change the world. During my time in college, I felt my heart being drawn to service," she said. "I didn't expect to be a sister though, because the only sisters I saw were in the movies, 'Sister Act' and in the 'Sound of Music' and she doesn't even become a sister. I wasn't intending on doing this ever."

After spending a year in the corporate world, she decided to make the change.

"It took me a couple of years of fighting on whether I had a call or not. Certainly giving up marriage, giving up free choices is difficult, but as I discovered that I had within my heart the call to follow religious life, I felt a lot of freedom in following that," she said.

Jess Lambert
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lambert admits her family was shocked when she told them about her decision to serve God.

"I remember telling my parents and they were quite horrified. They didn't know what to expect. I had them meet the community before I moved in. Over time, I've seen them grow in their acceptance in my life, because they've seen me happy," she said.

Jess Lambert
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

On Sunday, Lambert will be taking her final vows after six years of apprenticeship.

"It's very akin to a wedding ceremony. There is a mass and during that, they'll stand up and ask me if I'm ready to commit my life and I'll say yes. There's also a special part that is similar to an ordination and I'll lay down and they'll pray over me," she said.

Lambert said she definitely had second thoughts about her choice to join the church, but is excited for the future.

"I feel at peace. I'm really glad. I could be really nervous, but I'm not. I feel like I'm at the point I'm supposed to be and this is the natural next step," Lambert said.

Jess Lambert
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

According to CARA, there’s been a decline in Catholic vocations across the board including women who choose the church. There were 160,931 religious sisters in 1970. In 2018, there were only 44,117.

Lambert lives with 10 other sisters in a West Humboldt Park convent.

Mission Our Lady of the Angels provides community outreach, after school and senior programs, and a weekly food pantry, that serves 1,000 families a month.