Twin Sisters of Life share their vocation stories prior to Life Fest
Sister Pia Jude and Sister Luca Benedict are both Sisters of Life who will be speaking at the upcoming Life Fest, a morning of prayer for youth put on by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 19, before the March for Life. Not only are the two women religious sisters, but they also happen to be biological twin sisters.
Despite spending time in law and medicine, respectively, each of these sisters, through surrendering to God's will, was led to her true vocation as a Sister of Life. They shared their stories with CNA.
At the age of 19, Sister Pia Jude found herself asking the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament: "Jesus, what is your will for my life?" she told CNA in an interview. In an instant she saw a young religious woman in a full white habit sitting in the pew across from her.
"I was shocked," she said. "Never had she been in the church before that moment and never would I see her again. And so I swiftly followed with my response: 'No, way, Jesus! That's too radical!'"
However, knowing she needed Jesus, she let him guide her but, as she said, "anywhere but the convent."
The young woman ended up in law school and began to practice law in New York City. However, the image of the religious sister never left her mind. While working in the heart of the financial district she began to search her heart and asked the Lord: "Jesus, how do you want me to love?"
"It was in New York City that I encountered the Sisters of Life and saw in them a freedom to love and be loved that I did not yet know," Sister Pia Jude explained. "I realized that at 19, God was planting a seed in my mind and heart that he had a great plan for my love, and it would be poured out upon those who needed the greatest advocating, the most vulnerable of our society."
She entered the Sisters of Life in 2013.
Her twin sister had a similar experience. During a high school retreat, Sister Luca Benedict found herself before the Blessed Sacrament asking the Lord a similar question as her sister: "What is your plan for my life?"
"What stirred in my heart was this desire for greatness. I did not really understand what this would mean," she told CNA.
Despite remaining close to the Eucharist throughout her life, she explained that her faith and her life "were not truly integrated."
"While sitting in my college biology class, I experienced a sense of wonder and excitement," she explained. "I loved learning about the way life is so ordered -- how it tells a story. Biology told a really beautiful one. This wonder of creation, especially the crowning jewel of creation -- the human person -- captivated me. I felt this invitation, this call, to study medicine."
It wasn't until she completed her medical training in residency that she found herself asking: "God, what is your plan for my love?"
"In response, I knew Jesus was inviting me to lay down all of the gifts he had given me in my profession. I heard Jesus say to my heart: 'Let me show you what I can do with it.' Jesus showed me that the seeds of my vocation were planted on those youth retreats of desiring greatness -- as Jesus' bride, he opens my heart to a greatness in love."
She entered the Sisters of Life in 2016, only a couple of weeks after her twin sister took her first vows and was able to return home after her years in formation.
"Our parents enjoyed a couple weeks with both their daughters home before they had to take us both to the convent -- Sister Pia Jude as a newly professed sister to begin her first mission, and myself to enter as a postulant," Sister Luca Benedict said. "But they did so with joy -- it was pure grace that strengthened them for that day."
Sister Pia Jude shared that during her time as a postulant, she experienced such joy that she wanted the same for her sister.
"I had to entrust my sister's vocation to the Lord," she said.
"When I learned that she was entering the Sisters of Life, I thought, 'Wow God! Your gifts keep multiplying!'"
Sister Luca Benedict added: "Being a religious, and specifically being consecrated to this charism of protecting and enhancing the sacredness of human life, is something difficult to communicate. There is a depth and richness of living in a spiritual reality that is hard to speak about."
"To know that my twin sister knows and understands what is so essential to my own heart, and to the heart of each Sister of Life, is really one of the greatest gifts God can give a family."
The two sisters were drawn to the Sisters of Life in particular because of the "invitation to spousal love with Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of every soul, and the attraction to the charism of life," Sister Pia Jude explained.
"Ironically," she added, "neither of us ever really expressed to the other these desires -- they were something personal and inexpressible -- but the fact that we both experienced an invitation to become a Sister of Life confirms that God was preparing both of us to encounter in the Sisters of Life and the vows we profess the fulfillment of our desires."
Over the years, they have worked helping pregnant women in need and working on college campuses sharing the gospel of life. Sister Pia Jude is currently putting her law degree back to work as she works at their motherhouse in New York in the office of the superior general, which supports and upholds each sister and their missions.
This week when the twin sisters speak at Life Fest at the D.C. Armory in the nation's capital, where there will be Mass, music, and testimonies, they hope to convey the message "that God's goodness multiplies. That from one, God made two," Sister Luca Benedict told CNA.
"Our testimony is that God has even greater gifts in store for you -- dream and give those dreams to God," she added. "Be open to his call for your life, and he will transform every dream you have in his love. God will strengthen you and bless you beyond your imagination."
This will be the second "post-Roe" March for Life. Despite the great strides the pro-life movement has made since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022, laws protecting abortion continue to be passed in states across the country.
Sister Pia Jude emphasized the importance of taking part in the march "because unity is healing."
"The march is both a spiritual and tangible response to the very crisis it seeks to address -- every pregnant woman we serve is scared and alone," she added. "Often, she does not have community around her. Those whom she needs most as her support -- the father of the baby, her family, her friends -- are telling her that an abortion is her only option."
"What she needs is the encouragement and strength that comes from human love that happens in community. She needs people united behind her who will say, 'We are here for you. You can do this. We believe in you.' This changes everything."
Life Fest will take place from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST on Jan. 19. You can watch the livestream here.