SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Three religious sisters are participating in a unique evangelization effort by competing on a Bible-trivia game show in hopes of supporting their community.
“This isn’t something we would normally do, but when the opportunity arose, Mother (Assumpta Long) discerned that it would be good not only for the benefit of our community, but also for the New Evangelization,” said Sister Maria Suso of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on March 15.
Team Sisters of Mary will be featured on the March 21 season premiere of The American Bible Challenge, hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, on the Game Show Network.
Facing off against Team Preachin’ Divas, a group of women dedicated to inner-city outreach in Oakland, Calif., and Team Anointed Ink, a group of Texas-based tattoo artists who cover up questionable body art with religious symbols, the sisters competed for a chance to win $100,000 for their charity of choice.
“We met the other teams, and it was beautiful to see their love for the Scripture and their dedication to Christ,” Sister Maria said.
Although Sister Maria could not reveal how far she and a few of the community’s novices, Sister Peter Joseph and Sister Evangeline, advanced in the game show — which has already been recorded — she did say that they all had “a lot of fun” competing to win money for their rapidly expanding order.
Founded in 1997 with just four sisters in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist has now grown to 120 members. The order’s habited sisters are specially committed to Mary, the Blessed Sacrament and the New Evangelization.
By working to set aside money for the founding members’ retirement, the younger sisters are seeking to show their gratitude for the women “who have really spent themselves in providing a community and a home for us.”
“If they hadn’t said ‘Yes’ to God’s call, what would we have done?” Sister Maria said. “Our vocations are here.”
Aside from trying to win money to support their community, Sister Maria said their presence on the show was just one of the many ways their community is “engaging with the culture to try to bring them to Christ.”
“Anyone who sees us,” she said, “I hope would realize that the joy that we have and the love that we have for one another comes from Christ and that they can also come into contact with him.”
A deeper aspect of that mission is to help other people discern their vocations, Sister Maria said.
“No matter what we do, we are always on the lookout to help people to discern God’s will in their lives,” she said. “I hope that there’s a young woman out there, even if she doesn’t come to our community, in whom it’s stirred: the question whether or not God might be calling her (to religious life).”
Although she and her teammates were chosen to compete because of their knowledge of the Bible, Sister Maria said preparing for the show gave them an even deeper appreciation of Scripture.
She explained that Catholics tend to focus on the “basic idea and the content” of sacred Scripture rather than the small details.
While that aspect of the Bible is “important,” she said, “the Church Fathers didn’t feel that way.”
“The Fathers of the Church,” she said, “memorized the Scriptures, and they knew all the details, and they found them all significant.”
In their study of the Bible leading up to the show — and even more so after the show — Sister Maria said she and her teammates have come “to look at the Scriptures in a different way” by learning “to appreciate the details more.”
She added, “I hope that encourages some Catholics to rededicate themselves to discovering the riches of the Scriptures.”