Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Sisterhood Becoming Nuns- Interview with Claire Halbur and the Epiphany

As we end today with the Epiphany we continue this year of Consecrated Life. While I shortly looked into this prior to meeting my husband there are many other young men and women who spend much time and prayer discerning this vocation.  I got a chance to interview Claire Halbur of The Sisterhood Becoming Nuns on Lifetime.  This was a brief 6 episode series that was on just prior to the holidays.  On the show five young women visited three convents for two weeks each. The show highlighted their time at each convent highlighting the convent's ministry and ways of life.  Several sisters from each convent shared their vocation stories as well.
Claire Halbur

1. What made you decide to do the show? How did the producers find you or you find them?

Because I watch next to zero television, being cast for a reality-documentary on a major network was totally instigated by the Holy Spirit. They found me through a blog for Catholic young women that I used to write for. After their initial email to me, some phone exchanges, and a Skype interview, they called be back months later to say that a show was being planned on discerning religious life and that I was being invited to participate. I asked quite a few questions to be sure that my Catholic Faith and religious sisters would be portrayed in a positive light with this project, and during the logistical discussions/contract stage, simply prayed for God to either open or close the doors as He saw fit.

 2. 6 hour long episodes cannot capture everything.  What do you wish they had shown more of? They didn't show prayer time very often but did you get a lot of it?  I ask because Christie mentioned how she did not get time with Jesus a lot during the first few episodes.
 I wish they had shown more of the community prayer (we did morning prayer, evening prayer, and daily Mass at pretty much every convent). I don't think the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office ever got shown, but that is an important part of religious community life. At the Carmelites we did not have much Eucharistic Adoration or exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and that is what Christie was referring to missing there. I also wish they had shown more of the peaceful moments, because there were plenty of those too. The nature of a reality-type show, however, is to show the "big" moments, the high highs and the low lows. ;-)

3. What was your daily life like while visiting convents?  Schedules etc?
Usually we were in the chapel around 6:30 or 7:00am. After morning prayer and/or Mass plus breakfast, we would participate either in tasks or chores around the convent, or go out to experience the apostolate of that particular community. Due to crew and cameras, we sometimes had pockets of time where we and sisters had to wait on doing a particular activity, or had be flexible about how condensed or stretched out things were. The typical rhythm of each convent's daily routine is not able to be fully experienced while there is a filming crew present, but an experience of their spiritualities and charisms was still able to be learned.

4. Do you think any of the girls were there just to be on TV or were they all genuine in their discernment?
 Each of the five cast members were genuinely searching, even though some were in a very initial, exploratory stage of discernment. We were each from quite different backgrounds, with varied experiences and priorities and in different places on our journeys of faith and discernment, but each of us was met and challenged by grace through the process. I think if not for the show, some of them may not have had this kind of convent experience. God can use very unique invitations to draw us to Himself.

5.  Were you surprised by the other girl’s decisions?
Not really.

6. Where are you now on your discernment journey? Are you sticking with your decision for the sisters in Kentucky?

I am prayerfully continuing the discernment journey one step at a time. While at the Sisters of Saint Joseph the Worker in Kentucky, I was moved to ask to begin the process of application to that particular community. The next step meant returning for a retreat/official individual visit. It was a very beneficial second visit and a chance to experience their actual rhythm of life without cameras and crews. Based on that experience, I am praying over and consulting with my spiritual director on how the Lord wishes me to proceed.

7. Do you keep in touch with the other girls?  How are they doing?

We occasionally message one another, and Christie and I have had a few phone conversations too. From what I can tell, everyone is doing well. My prayer for each of us is that we will remember the ways our hearts were touched during the compact experience of living around the sisters. 

8.  Have you visited any other convents outside of the three we saw in the show?

I have visited a number of convents over the years, and in the past each time the answer I received in prayer was either "Not here", or "Not yet".

9. What was the most interesting thing you learned about nuns and convent life while on this journey?
One interesting thing is how the personalities of each sister seem to affect the community atmosphere, and how the community affects the individual. 

10.   What is your favorite way to pray? What connects you most to God?
 Sacred music is one of my favorite ways to pray. As a vocalist and liturgical musician, I deeply experience the presence of God through beauty, through the Sacraments, and through the universality of our Church.

11.   What advice do you have for young girls going through discernment?
Know that every vocation involves discernment — not just becoming a sister. Pray for the grace to have an open heart and to be receptive to God's dreams for you. Cultivate your relationship with our Mother Mary, since she shows us how to joyfully say "yes" to Him with complete trust.

Just for fun:

1. What book are you currently reading?
And You Are Christ's: The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life by Thomas Dubay

2.  What is your favorite Advent tradition?
The music unique to the Advent season.

3. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Shared family time, stories, and little ways of bringing joy and cheer to others. 

4. What is your favorite holiday food?
Probably pie...

5. Describe your style.
Classic, feminine.

6. What do you do for fun?
Creative projects, dancing, photography.

7. What are your current prayer intentions that we can focus on for you?
For my students and my current ministry at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond in Joliet. For my studies as I take them one semester at a time. For increased energy and discipline in my daily duties. 

Thanks so much to Claire Halbur for agreeing to interview at such a busy time of the year.  Please keep Claire and all the girls of the show in your prayers as the Christmas season comes to an end.
The cast of The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns

Reminder that today is the day of the Epiphany.  If you have not done so move your Magi to the manger and rejoice in the Lord our King of Kings.  Today is a great day to bless your home.  You can use the prayer on Catholic Culture.  Write with chalk or place a sign that says  20+C+M+B+15 above the front door.  After today it will be time to take down the Christmas decor and return your home to ordinary time.


  1. So what ever happened with Claire. Did she become a nun?

  2. She did not. She is actually working in Arizona now as a music minister and becoming a concecrated virgin.