2014 Jubilarian – C. Vita (Vita Marie) Pierce
“I had a rough time with them in the beginning, and they didn’t think I was too wonderful,” she recalls. When she failed first grade, her mother put her into the public school. After two weeks in the first grade, the public school moved her up to second grade. During fourth grade, her mother was convinced she needed to send Vita back to St. Gregory to save her soul.
After graduating from St. Gregory, Sister Vita looked into entering different religious congregations. Her mother encouraged her to attend college before joining a community. She wanted to attend Marygrove, but her mother insisted she get some distance from the IHMs, so she attended the University of Detroit.
After a year, Sister Vita joined the IHM community. The wonderful IHMs she met in high school allowed her to see the love of prayer and service. “They laughed. They had fun together. And they were respectful of their students and of each other. They weren’t dour. They were happy.” She also felt called to the IHMs because she “thought they were holy. This was a way to holiness, a way to union with God. That’s what I wanted.”
During her postulancy, Sister Vita says she tried “to be aware of who I am and what I was doing in this very large picture, this very large place. And not feeling all that secure.” When she became a novice, she thought, “I have arrived!” she laughs. The novitiate taught her the reasons why things were done.
Following her student teaching, Sister Vita taught in Mobile, Ala., and then went to Puerto Rico to teach. She had taken Spanish classes in preparation of her assignment and became fluent while attending the University of Puerto Rico. She also ministered at a day center helping women finish their GEDs. When she returned to Detroit, she earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Wayne State University.
Sister Vita has been ministering as a psychologist at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital (formerly called Wyandotte General Hospital) for 33 years and had a private practice for 25 years. “All my life, I’ve loved people telling me their stories,” she says. “Here was a ministry where I would get paid for it!”
Sister Vita has many fond memories of her life in the IHM community, including becoming a cosmetologist with the intent of assisting other sisters make the transition from wearing a habit to wearing secular clothing and maintaining a modern hairstyle. She would like the community to know, “How grateful I am for all those visionaries who have gone before and all their good works. And for accepting me as a member.”