Australia: ABC reporter Nancy Webb joins Sisters of Life as a Catholic nun after journalism career in Toowoomba

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Nancy Webb loved her job as an a ABC reporter but she gave it all up for a strictly regulated life of obedience, poverty and chastity and wouldn't swap back, even if a meat pie might tempt her.

Webb was a young reporter for ABC Toowoomba in south-east Queensland and in the middle of a thriving career when in 2018 she decided to follow a childhood calling and become a Catholic nun.

Since then, the 26-year-old has taken vows of poverty and chastity, which mean she now lives in a convent where most decisions are made for her, has no money of her own and has few possessions, not even a phone.

Sister Rose, (pictured right) here seen with her brothers Father Nathan (left) and Brother Isaac Seraphin Webb, after she gave up her career as a journalist to embrace a calling to be a nun  © Provided by Daily Mail Sister Rose, (pictured right) here seen with her brothers Father Nathan (left) and Brother Isaac Seraphin Webb, after she gave up her career as a journalist to embrace a calling to be a nun

She also has a new name - Sister Rose Patrick O'Connor - although Nancy Webb remains her legal name on the passport.

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On a recent visit to Australia to visit her family, Sister Rose told ABC Toowoomba radio, where she used to work, that being called by a different name was odd at first.

'Initially it's a bit of a transition but I have had the new name for a couple of years now so I've gotten used to it,' she said.

'Receiving a new name in religious life is like a flowering of your full identity and your mission and everything. Really it's like an expression of who you are inside.'

She revealed that as a child she used to play dress-ups and call herself Sister Rose, with Rose being her middle name.

'The name "Rose" was definitely on my heart so I just prayed about it and felt "yeah, that's the name he has for me as a sister",' she said.

Paul (pictured far right) and Fiona Webb (pictured fourth from the right) have had 12 children, with three embracing a religious calling © Provided by Daily Mail Paul (pictured far right) and Fiona Webb (pictured fourth from the right) have had 12 children, with three embracing a religious calling

For the past three years she lived in a New York convent with 10 other nuns as part of the Sisters of Life order but recently has been sent to Toronto, a decision made by a head nun, the Mother Superior General.

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Sister Rose has taken temporary vows of poverty and abstinence, which means she is three years into a five-year period of discernment before she takes perpetual vows to be a lifetime nun.

The Sisters of Life provide counselling and offer support to women with unexpected pregnancies or to those who have had an abortion.

Sister Rose's routine means she gets up at 5am every morning, has a time of prayer, takes Mass or spends time with the other sisters.

She then performs the main ministry of the order, speaking with women.

'We just listen to their stories and hear where they are at and what they have been through and all their hopes and their dreams,' Sister Rose said.

'(We) just connect them with the resources they need whether it is housing or finance or often just community or just support and friends and someone to say "you are amazing and you can do this". It's beautiful.'

The Webb family are seen after a celebratory mass for Brother Isaac Seraphin Webb's religious vows © Provided by Daily Mail The Webb family are seen after a celebratory mass for Brother Isaac Seraphin Webb's religious vows

Sister Rose admitted being told what to wear, eat and do every day and in general, was sometimes challenging.

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'As religious sisters we make the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,' she said.

'So, all the normal human gifts we are given of being able to choose what I am going to wear and what I am going to buy and whether I am going to have a house and to have a marriage, family - these are good things ... these are really precious and good gifts that I give back to God.

'So, naturally that is going to be hard. But when you know that you are loved and that the reason you are giving it is for love then every desire is fulfilled.'

Sister Rose said there was both freedom but vulnerability from not earning a living and having to rely on donations.

'It's like a childlikeness,' she said.

'It's like when you're a child and mum and dad look after you.'

'So, we kind of step into that as sisters. Our heavenly father is going to provide so I am free but we are totally dependent on him.'

When asked what she most missed from her old life, Sister Rose was quick to mention two staples of the Aussie diet.

'I miss the ol' sausage sizzle and meat pies,' she said.

'The first thing I had when I got home was a good ol' meat pie.'

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Sister Rose is also a talented violinist and comes from a family of gifted musicians.

Her violin performance of the folk music-inspired concert piece Csárdás by Italian composer Vittorio Monti gathered 23 million views on YouTube.

Sister Rose still plays the violin and said her ministry work had enhanced her experience.

'I have really seen my gift of music flourishing in a way I hadn't before,' Sister Rose said.

'(It's) partly to do with my encounter with the raw human experience I hadn't encountered before, partly to do with the deep suffering, the deep vulnerability and amazing courage.

'These just access new places in my heart that I wasn't able to access before.

'It's often a gift to be with people who are experiencing deep suffering, to be with them and music can pierce a place in the heart and the soul that words can't get to.'

Sister Rose comes from a family of 14 and two of her brothers also have responded to a religious vocational calling.

One brother Nathan is a priest in Toowoomba and another brother, Isaac, has finished a year of formation as a Capuchin monk in California and will be moving to Melbourne to do mission work.

Beaming father Paul Webb, who recently welcomed his first grandchild, told Daily Mail Australia he and his wife Fiona were very happy to see his 12 kids doing widely varying things - with one being a software engineer in Switzerland.

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'It's a pretty exciting world to be part of watching them all go their way, he said.

At one stage all 12 kids - who range in age from 10 to 30 - were packed into a four-bedroom home in Toowoomba.

'We sort of found three was the hardest really and once we had three we sort of threw out the rule book and took each day as it comes and each child as it comes,' Paul said.

'So far the kids are turning out all right so I don't think we are doing anything wrong by them.'

In Sister Rose's case she believes her path is the right one, something she can confirm in two years by taking perpetual vows to be a fully fledged nun.

'As far as I know this is where I feel happy,' she said.

'This is where I am totally fulfilled,  feel free and God willing if still chooses to this is his calling, it that's where his invitation is I will very willingly respond.'

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