Competing on game show ‘good witness’ of joy of giving life to Christ

| Zoey Di Mauro | May 30, 2013 | 0 Comments
Sisters Evangeline, Peter Joseph and Maria Suso participate in "The American Bible Challenge." CNS photo/Lisa Rose, courtesy GSN

Sisters Evangeline, Peter Joseph and Maria Suso participate in “The American Bible Challenge.” CNS photo/Lisa Rose, courtesy GSN

“The right earlobe, right thumb and right big toe,” answered Sister Peter Joseph.

The crowd cheered as host Jeff Foxworthy affirmed her answer to the question of what parts of the body God instructed Moses to anoint.

Sister Peter Joseph, along with Sister Mary Suso and Sister Evangeline — from the Ann Arbor, Mich., community of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist — competed in the cable TV show “The American Bible Challenge.”

The Game Show Network’s most successful show to date, now in its second season, has three teams of three participate in games and trivia to win money for their favorite charity.

“It’s a great show,” Sister Peter Joseph told Catholic News service in a telephone interview. While she hopes it encourages people to go read the Bible, “at the very least they’re learning something from the questions, and it’s a very positive game show, which is something exciting nowadays.”

Sister Maria Suso explained, “It’s lighthearted, and through it people realize the things they don’t know about the Bible. There’s so much beauty and humor in the details of the text.”

The three sisters made it to the finale of the show May 23 but were bested there by the Wagner Warriors, a team of three brothers from Oklahoma.

Still, the sisters won a total of $55,000 for their charity, $10,000 of which they received by being voted the show’s fan favorite. The money won will go into a fund to provide for the medical expenses of the aging sisters in their religious community. As one of the youngest and fast-growing communities in the country, the elder Dominican sisters are especially busy with facilitating the entrance of these newcomers, so these three were excited to be able to provide for them for a change.

“They aren’t focused on themselves,” said Sister Maria Suso. “They’re busy with fundraising and building new housing; the older sisters are really pouring themselves out for us.”

The three competing sisters are representative of a community where the average age is 28; all are young and relatively new to the community. Sisters Evangeline and Peter Joseph are novices and Sister Maria Suso is a temporary professed member. In several more years the sisters will be able to take final vows.

The team of three assembled after their mother superior learned about the show.

“Mother Mary Assumpta asked any Bible experts to come forward,” said Sister Maria Suso. Though she wasn’t originally thrilled about the possibility of the publicity and limelight, she felt obligated by her vow of obedience to let Mother Mary Assumpta know of her prowess.

Out of those who were biblically knowledgeable, three were chosen.

Though the sisters’ life of prayer and study of religious texts predisposed them to knowledge of Bible trivia, “we studied a lot,” said Sister Peter Joseph. Each sister took a third of the Bible and then shared the notes on each section between them.

“The studying definitely paid off because some of the questions were pretty challenging,” Sister Maria Suso remarked.

Underneath all the facts and trivia, the sisters and other contestants on the show exhibited that a love for the word of God drove them.

For Sister Maria Suso, the call to her vocation began with regular prayer and reading of the Bible. “At age 14 I was very unhappy though I had a good life; through some conversations I realized it was a spiritual problem. I fell in love with God through reading the Scriptures.”

“It was really fun,” commented Sister Peter Joseph of their experience on the show and on it being taped in Hollywood before a studio audience. “I don’t think anyone in there had seen a religious sister before, especially not one in real habit.”

In fact some people learned about their way of life the hard way, especially their vow of poverty.

“One man joked that I needed to pay him for my coffee, but I had to tell him I don’t have any money on me … ever,” Sister Peter Joseph said with a laugh.

She is optimistic about the impression they gave to the viewers and those they met. “I hope that it was a good witness of the joy of giving yourself to Christ.”

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