Villanova University has one of the best college basketball programs in the country. Between the men and women's programs, 21 national championships have been won. Many of the players have gone on to play in the NBA and WNBA. The individual with the most points (2,408) in Villanova basketball history is Shelly Pennefather, who played from 1983-1987. In 1987 she won the Wade Trophy, given to the best women's college basketball player. She played professionally for a few years in Japan, as the WNBA did not yet exist, earning nearly half a million dollars in today's standard. And then she disappeared. "Whatever happened to Shelly Pennefather" read a recent headline.
Shelly Pennefather no longer exists. She is Sister Rose Marie of the Queen of the Angels. Shelly left the world in 1991 and became a Catholic nun, a sister of the Poor Clares Convent. This is a cloistered order, meaning the nuns have absolutely no contact with the outside world. They live mostly in silence and prayer, never leaving the convent except for a medical emergency. They sleep on straw mattresses, walk barefoot, wake up at midnight to pray, and are able to see people through a screen only twice a year. Once every 25 years are the nuns allowed to physically touch someone.
Pennefather is a witness to the beauty of God. Dying to the world and embracing a life in union with Christ is joy-giving and fulfilling.
Sister Rose Marie had her 25th anniversary of profession this past June and ESPN recorded the event. A beaming Sister Rose Marie hugged her mother, her siblings, and her former coach and teammates. "I love this life," she told them. "I'm not underliving life. I'm living it to the full."