What an incredible story!
Shelly Pennefather, a former Villanova University women’s basketball star, gave up her life and wealth to become a cloistered nun in 1994.
ESPN recently reported Pennefather’s story, explaining that Pennefather specifically chose Villanova after being a top-five basketball recruit in high school.
She currently “holds the all-time scoring record for men and women at Villanova,” and went on to play professionally in Japan after college.
While playing professionally in Japan, “she made a deal with God that if she could pull her team out of last place and into the playoffs, she would vow to owe her time and postseason bonus to Mother Teresa’s convent in Pennsylvania,” narrator Robin Roberts explains.
“Four years later in 1991, on the verge of a $200,000 annual salary, answered her calling and renounced her worldly life.” At 25 years old, she gave up a contract that would have made her “one of the richest women’s basketball players in the world.”
Pennefather now lives as a cloistered nun in the Poor Clares Monastery in Alexandria, Va. She can only physically embrace her family and friends every 25 years.
Pennefather’s sister Therese says that when her sister told her about her decision to become a cloistered nun, Therese “cried the whole night,” because she knew she wouldn’t see her sister much, ever again. She says “it was really hard.”
“When we drove Sr. Rose to the convent, and we came home, Sr. Rose had left a note for Mom, and I just found Mom sitting and crying,” Therese Pennefather says.
“Mom, I think, was asked to make a much harder sacrifice. She had to give up the right to be a daily presence in her daughter’s life.”
In 1994, Pennefather became Sr. Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels. She embraced her family for the last time until recently, when her family and friends gathered on June 9, 2019.
Since then, the story explains that her mother, Mary Jane Pennefather, “has kept a candle burning at home praying for this day to finally arrive.”
Watch how her family and friends react below:
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