Not Your Typical Nun Story

The story of how Sister Judy Shoff came to be an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown is unique. She was Protestant. She was married with children. But God’s call to Catholicism and Religious life transcended those boundaries.


In her 40s, her family obligations met, Sister Judy answered that call first by volunteering with the Ursuline Sisters, then by joining their community.


In this installment of Vocation Stories, Sister Judy relates in her own words the details of her journey.



Sister Judy Shoff

Most of my friends were Catholic, I was Protestant, and I was always fascinated by the Catholic religion. My friends had the crucifix in their homes, they had the Sign of the Cross they made as they prayed, and this always stayed with me.


Following a New Path

It wasn’t until later years, in fact, I was an adult, I had been married, I had two adult children, three grandchildren, and I was a nurse. I had been working at a hospital and a visitor came in one day and was talking about the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class and I asked him about that and I said I would be interested in learning about the Catholic religion.


A Blossoming Faith

I continued to have the desire to enter religious life. Of course, I prayed about it. People talked to me about their charism and St. Angela Merici, she’s the founder of the Ursuline Sisters. I really became interested and fascinated by – St. Angela cared about the poor and the underserved.


Finding Meaning in Ministry

What continues to give my life meaning is being with others, being in community, being with others at work – patients and also co-workers. We’re there for each other. Even patients, even though I’m there to minister to them, they really minister to me, also.


Surrounded by Family

In community, we have people of all different gifts, so we can help each other. There’s always somebody that is able to help so we’re really here for each other.


I’m Sister Judy Shoff.


Do you think you have the call to be an Ursuline Sister of Youngstown? Sister Judy offers this advice: “Pray about it, of course, and ask God that you really do feel the calling. Try to meet with Sisters in Religious Communities if you’re able to and hear their stories and their experiences.”