Diocesan News

Sister Colette Moon Tried For Years to Resist Religious Calling

Sister Colette Moon worked to increase religious vocations during her time in California. (Photos: Courtesy of Sister Colette Moon)

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article in a series “Nun Better,” which takes a look at the lives and the service of women religious in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

BAYSIDE — Sister Colette Moon, SBKM, was in her early 20s when she was struck by a feeling deep inside that she wanted to become a nun. But instead of embracing it, she tried to ignore it.

She was on her way to becoming a teacher and didn’t want to be sidetracked in her career goals, she recalled, saying: “I was happy with my life.” 

Still, the feeling would not go away. So finally, after several years of resisting, she realized that God was indeed calling her to live a religious life. She professed her vows and joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyrs. 

The religious community was founded by Father Andrew Yoo Ryong Bang in Korea in 1946. The religious order is named for the Korean Martyrs, the 8,000-10,000 Catholics who were killed during years of religious persecution in the 19th Century. 

Sister Colette, who is now 43, first entered the community in 2011, professed her initial vows in 2015, and made her final vows in 2021.

She is currently the director of religious education at St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside. She has traveled a long road to arrive at this moment in her life.

Born and raised in South Korea, Sister Colette moved to the U.S. with her family — father Gye Song, mother Myung Hee and brother Andrew —  when she was 19. The Moons settled in Novi, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. They started attending St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church, and it was there, when she attended a religious retreat, that her life began to change.

“I actually don’t even remember what I did during the retreat or what exactly happened during it,” she said. “But what I do remember is that after the retreat, I felt this joy, tremendous joy. And I believe that was the moment when I began to have this desire to become a woman religious.”

Until that moment, she had never imagined herself living a religious life. 

“All of a sudden, something in my heart began to tell me, ‘This is what you want. This is the path that you really want to follow in life,”’ she said.

Still, she tried to resist the feeling. “I pretended that I had never noticed my true vocation, and I lived a simple, normal life for years after that retreat,” Sister Colette explained. 

She earned a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University and was planning to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. In fact, she had been accepted at Berkeley and had plans to become a preschool teacher. 

Part of her decision to ignore the vocation came from a fear of disappointing her parents. Their dreams for their two children involved financially successful careers. 

They had worked hard and sacrificed a lot to give her and her brother Andrew a good life.  

Sister Colette Moon loved living in Peru, where she taught English to children in a pre-school.

But in her early 30s, she decided to follow her heart and joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Korean Martyrs. At first, her parents were shocked;  however, they supported their daughter’s decision.

On the day of her final vows last year, she felt a sense of relief. “I thought, ‘I’m finally here.’ I thanked God for permitting me, for giving me the permission to be a part of our congregation and a part of His service,” she said.

Her life as a nun has been fulfilling. Thanks to the sisters, she has lived in several countries, helping to spread the Gospel, including Mexico, Peru and her native South Korea. Here in the U.S., she served in California and Texas before coming to the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In February, Sister Colette was named director of religious education at St. Robert’s. “I love children. And I’m just so grateful that I get to be part of their faith journey,” she said.

Last year, there were 75 children in the Religious Education program. It’s not clear yet how many they will have this year because parents are still registering their children. 

St. Robert’s boasts a large Korean population, and Sister Colette enjoys serving as a bridge between the English-speaking and Korean communities in the parish.

Meanwhile, her own education is not finished. The diocese requires directors of religious education to hold a Master’s Degree in Theology. Sister Colette will pursue her Master’s by taking online courses at Franciscan University.