My path of discerning a religious vocation was a journey from an intellectual knowledge of God to a unique and personal relationship with him.
God planted many of the seeds of my vocation through FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. I found FOCUS through a local Newman Center during my junior year of college. Through a FOCUS Bible study, I experienced the Lord speaking to my heart through the Scriptures, and I began to understand that my life was actually important to him, and that he desired my happiness and my joy. It wasn’t as though I didn’t believe it before, but in that time, this truth became newly personal to me.
Not long after graduation, I applied and joined FOCUS as a missionary, feeling deeply that this was part of my call to do something great with my life. I greatly admired the missionaries that had served while I was a student, and found myself drawn to serve in a similar way. When I got to the staff training for FOCUS, I encountered a Sister of Life for the first time, and was blown away by her joy, her genuine love for Jesus, and that she glowed like a bride!
Something of that joy reached into my heart to whisper, “You are made for that kind of love, too.” Nevertheless, I was still a hard nut to crack, as something about God’s plan for my life, religious life, and deep joy seemed like they couldn’t possibly fit together!
During my time with FOCUS, God so graciously and gently prepared me for himself. He tilled the soil of my heart with prayer, in community life with my FOCUS team, through authentic Christian friendships with students and missionaries, and in experiences of seeing the beauty of both marriage and religious life.
As a missionary, life included daily Mass, Holy Hour, and rosary. Through this deep prayer life, I found myself growing in friendship with God. This relationship went even deeper through FOCUS mission trips with my students.
In my first mission, we worked with the Sisters of Life in New York City. It was during this time that my searching heart found a resonating chord with the spirituality and way of life of the sisters, particularly how their charism spoke to the uniqueness of each person, made as a particular facet of God’s love, and fashioned in his image. This, along with their rich prayer life that precedes their apostolate, and their witness of joy, truly struck my heart.
I felt the Lord calling me to this, and what amazed me was that as the Lord held these beautiful gifts out to me; he was freely inviting my heart to follow him. He was inviting me to belong totally to him in consecration, not just as a friend, but as a bride! The Lord’s first “proposal” to belong to him as a religious was posed as an invitation to a life of sharing his love through evangelization, “Would you consider that?” My response? “Yes, Lord!”
Then the flood of questions and desires followed, to which he gave peaceful assurance that he would fulfill and even exceed those desires of my heart a hundredfold! Yes, God keeps his promises! He continues to astound me. Throughout these past 7 ½ years as a sister, he has never ceased to pour out his gratuitous love, grace, and mercy in my life!
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