Born in Borger, Texas, Sister Mary Jude had the great blessing of being raised in a strong Catholic family. Faith was number one in their home, and it was nourished through Sunday Mass, Holy Days of Obligation, daily Mass during the summer (sometimes reluctantly!), and monthly confession and family prayer. Leonard and Roberta Schwind had a devotion to Our Lady and the rosary, which they passed on to their children.
“I am pretty sure my sisters and I were praying a Hail Mary when Roger Staubach made his famous pass against the Minnesota Vikings in 1975”, Sister laughed. In this rich and fertile soil of Catholicism, a religious vocation began. Sister Mary Jude attended St. John’s Catholic School and confided to one of the religious Sisters her idea of being a nun when she grew up. The Sister told her to pray and not to rush it. Through middle school, high school, and into her first years of junior college, the thought of religious life would come and go but not much attention was given to it.
In the summer of 1993, Sister Mary Jude had the great grace of attending World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II in Denver, Colorado. “That event opened my eyes to where I finally accepted my Catholic faith because it was important to me and not just to my parents,” Sister said. “I embraced it as my own.” As she prepared to graduate from West Texas A&M University, she began considering her options for the future. “My mother told me that when she herself graduated, she decided that if she had not met someone special within a year of her graduation, she would enter the convent. I said essentially the same thing, only I said that I would consider religious life.”
After graduation, Sister Mary Jude was employed by the Borger News Herald. She enjoyed her job, but after several years of working in the world began to feel that something was missing. Still faithful to her Church and active in serving as a catechist and youth group sponsor at St. John the Evangelist, she attended a youth rally, the theme of which was, “Who’s Call is it Anyway?”
“I had reached the point in my life where I was being very selfish,” she said. “I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I would get angry with my parents if they even hinted that I might have a vocation to the religious life. The funny thing is my parents weren’t the only ones saying that.” Several people, even religious Sisters, were asking her if she might consider a vocation. Before the youth rally, the thought made her cringe. After the rally, Sister Mary Jude began to pray the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet daily in front of the tabernacle at church asking God to guide her in the right path.
One day as she knelt in front of the tabernacle, she asked God to send her a good Catholic husband. Very clearly, Sister heard a voice say, “I would make a good Husband for you.” “I looked around in the church to see if anyone else was there,” she said. “After that, I turned back to the tabernacle and said in awe, ‘No way’.” I couldn’t believe that He had just spoken to me so clearly.”
Sister Mary Jude began working as the assistant editor of the West Texas Catholic not long after this experience. With an open mind and heart, she worked hard to use her God-given talents for writing full-time. She was able to attend daily Mass which only made her open her heart to the Lord even more. Sister Mary Jude was assigned to cover stories like final vow ceremonies and Nun Runs. These experiences helped her to get a good look at what religious life could be like. She still struggled with the desire to have a husband and family, but God seemed to close that avenue. She continued to pray her rosary daily and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for guidance.
One evening after a particularly trying day, Sister Mary Jude stood in the bedroom of her apartment and cried out to God, “What do You want from me?” Again she sensed the same voice confirm, “You know what I want.” Sister sat in the little chapel at the Chancery Office and thought about religious life. Abandonment became words: “Lord, if that is what You want, Your will be done.”
The peace that resulted was hard to describe,” Sister recounted. “I look back now and see how God lead me through all of that to show me the way to His heart.” Sister Mary Jude affirmed the many blessings in her life since joining the School Sisters of St. Francis. Even though some of those blessings came through trials by fire, she is very humbled to have the opportunity to give her life to God to Whom she will say, “yes” for all eternity.