LOPEZ: Is the countercultural nature of your call important? Especially now, in this culture, in your generation?
MARKS: Absolutely. Religious are called to witness by their life and garb to supernatural realities: God’s existence, His immeasurable love for each person, and the fact that our duty and happiness lie in returning His love. This witness becomes increasingly important as a culture’s materialism and corresponding distaste for the supernatural increase.
LOPEZ: Have you known religious sisters in your life?
MARKS: Yes. When I was young, my family often visited the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore in Manhattan, and I attended a retreat at their convent in Boston after freshman year of high school. Around 2000, I encountered my own, then very young, Dominican community and got to know the vocations director. In eighth grade, I switched from a private to a parochial school and met some of the Sisters of Charity, who had formerly run and were still somewhat involved with it. One of the sisters and I continue to keep up a strong friendship formed that year. Through her, I met several members of the relatively new order Familia Spiritualis Opus. The Dominicans of St. Mary of the Springs ran my high school, and the Sisters of Mercy administer a nursing home where I volunteered during the summers. In high school, I also visited the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, whom I had heard about at my parish. During college, I met the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at a pro-life event and visited their convent, and one of my close friends joined the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich.
LOPEZ: Was there anything at Dominican Academy that especially helped your spiritual growth and discernment?
MARKS: My English teacher, Mrs. Gunset, and her daily example of faith, joy, and charity inspired and encouraged me. The presence of Christ in the tabernacle under the same roof was also a tremendous privilege and source of strength; I think it was in high school that I became attuned to the desire, in moments of joy and grief, to run to our Eucharistic Lord. In college, I missed having Him there all the time and, like other students, would be frustrated to find the local church often closed. One of the beauties of convent life is Christ’s constant physical presence.
It is a tragic irony that Dominican Academy also helped my spiritual growth by laying before me in religion classes from the lips of my own teachers many classic arguments for relativism and Biblical fallibility. When I encountered these same ideas in college, I was prepared, because I had worked through counterarguments with my parents at home in high school.
LOPEZ: Is there something important to young women about all-girls schools? Did you ever think you were missing out on something?
MARKS: It has been documented that graduates of all-girls schools display greater self-confidence, engagement with current events, and academic commitment. I was always grateful for the unique camaraderie and businesslike attention to learning that characterized my experiences in all-girls schools.