MENDHAM, N.J. - Sister Monica Clare felt the calling to become a nun when she was just 7 years old. However, realizing her destiny took decades; she became a nun when she was 46. That destiny now has her spreading faith on social media.
"I believe that there is a loving God and that God wants us to be happy," Sister Monica Clare said.
She now lives modestly with other nuns in rural Mendham, New Jersey, at the convent of St. John Baptist, an Episcopal religious order for women that dates back to 1913. She manages the order's website and social media. Some sisters resisted sharing their faith in such a modern way.
"The sisters were very wary of social media because one thing about being brothers and sisters, especially in the Episcopal Church, is they're very, very private," Sister Monica Clare said.
"I started the account during COVID because I really felt like a lot of people were lonely, and TikTok filled that void of having someone to talk to," Sister Monica Clare said. "Even though you're not really talking to that person, you've got a person looking directly into the camera and talking to you."
She fields many questions from followers, including on benign topics such as her skincare routine. Her answer to that query went viral.
"If I go out in the sun, I have to have a sun shade or use an umbrella or something and of course that adds to the whole eccentric Mary Poppins- schoolmarm vibe that I constantly project," she said in a video. (She also doesn't drink and doesn't eat sugar.)
She also answers meaningful questions from her followers.
"Like, 'How can you believe in a loving god when there's suffering in the world?' That's a question everybody has," she told FOX 5 NY.
So why did she pick a social media platform more popular with Gen Z or Gen X when most women living in the convent are senior citizens?
"Our life really dovetails with the values of the younger generation — the younger generation is about preserving the environment, being good stewards of God's creation," Sister Monica Clare said. "It's about having more compassion."
The sisters are hoping by using social media this way they may demystify religious life here and encourage others to consider it.
"I need people to know how wonderful this is — our existence is really a beautiful thing," Sister Monica Clare said. "Religious life is very beautiful and very joyful."
Although her post of a wild turkey roaming the convent grounds attracted thousands of views, Sister Monica Clare said she really wants to share her faith and beliefs.
"A lot of people who are not religious, not spiritual are responding to what I'm saying because we all have the same struggles we all have the same questions," the sister said. "That is why we are here on this earth is to form loving connections with fellow human beings."
Indeed, many of her secular followers still seek spiritual help, even asking her to pray for them.
"It's very heartening to me to see people who say, 'I'm not a believer but could you pray for me?' because I really think it's wonderful that even when people don't believe in God, they don't believe in religion, they still believe in prayer."
In a TikTok video, she told her followers that the sisters have great joy in praying for people, which is why they go into chapel six times a day.
"A lot of us really do want this positive energy of love and compassion to spread — I want it to be contagious," Sister Monica Clare said. "I want people on social media to spread as much positive love as they can."
Follow Sister Monica Clare on TikTok @nunsenseforthepeople.