WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Life on the road as a trucker can be described as numerous things - holy is not usually the first to come to mind.
Yet the highway is where Sister Mary Annette Gailey discovered her calling to the sisterhood.
Gailey, 38, has pursued many of her passions, including child care, computer work and the opportunity to drive trucks. Her father had worked for the company that made Mack Trucks.
The long hours of quiet solitude as a trucker led Gailey's life down a new road.
"This particular venture allowed me to listen to the Holy Spirit," Gailey said. "It was a metaphoric journey being played out."
Gailey began a new journey when she made her final vows as one of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Philadelphia.
"God never stops calling. It's when do we finally listen?" Gailey said.
After graduating from Greencastle-Antrim High School, she majored in elementary education at Shippensburg University.
Gailey remained active in her church but rarely had interaction with Catholic nuns.
After college, Gailey used her degree in elementary education to work at a day care center. When she found it difficult to pay off her student loans, she moved into retail food management, customer service and computer work.
Gailey said she enjoyed interacting with customers, but she yearned for something better.
Eventually, she turned to her childhood ambition of driving a Mack by taking a job with D.M. Bowman, a freight transportation company.
Logging in long highway miles on her truck routes gave her perfect moments of reflection and solitude, she said.
"I was spending time in solitude - with just the Holy Spirit - and God spoke to me," Gailey said.
She said she often drove in silence and just listened. Those quiet moments gave God the opportunity to speak, she added.
"It's definitely not like people picking up the phone and someone calls you [to enter the sisterhood]. There's no lightning bolt."
Gailey began hearing God's call and questioning her goals in life. When the questions persisted, she planned a meeting with a vocational director and started a weekend of discernment, or exploration, with the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Danville.
"For me, it took a solid year of discernment . . . and asking questions of the heart," she said.
Gailey regularly attended discernment weekends with the sisters.
Gailey kept a journal. She spent one week living as if she would remain a lay person, and another as if she would enter religious life. She found peace in the latter. *