Love was one of my first memories. As a young child, I experienced love and have never stopped seeking love.
I am so blessed to have been raised in a beautiful family in which the faith was not only taught, but practiced. My parents instilled in me and my four siblings the truth that our Catholic faith is not reserved for Sunday morning Mass but ought to imbue the whole of our lives and actions.
My vocation began in this home of love. Here I first experienced the Lord’s personal love for me, a desire to give myself in love and service to others, and the joy of community through my parents and siblings.
As I grew, my faith continued to develop and grow, thanks to the Lord’s goodness to me. As I entered adolescence, I was gifted to be surrounded by many peers who were continually seeking to understand how to love the Lord more.
Called to serve — but as a mother or sister?
From as early as I can recall, I was quick to attest to the fact that I wanted to be a mother. Even into high school and beyond, I rarely thought about religious life and saw marriage and motherhood as my likely vocation.
Yet, as I reflect back on this desire, I can now recognize that it was the only way I was able to understand my desire to offer myself in loving service. This is because I was so blessed to see this self-giving love in my parents and my family, and I wanted to imitate that.
As I grew and matured, I began to understand the root of my hope for maternity as a longing for self-gift. It’s an understanding that grew over time as I grew to better know the Lord and thus myself.
A gap year living in community
After high school, I decided to take a year off of school to do some mission work. In this year, I lived with 10 other young adults traveling around the US offering Catholic retreats for middle and high school youth through a program called NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries.
What a beautiful experience this was for me! It was a year of great growth and joy.
We traveled a lot, so much of our time was spent together in a 12-passenger van. In that kind of setting, we had to learn to get along well. So we apologized when we offended one another and asked forgiveness frequently. This was my first experience of that in an adult relationship. It’s amazing to see the ability this brings for personal growth. I knew my teammates cared about our relationships, because they weren’t simply ignoring things I did or being embittered by them.
Due to this and the way my team interacted with me, I found I was really free to be myself and to grow. They loved me for who I am and at the same time challenged me to continue to become more whom the Lord desires me to be.
I experienced what a great gift community is, how it challenged me to grow, and very practically showed me how to love. I saw my prayer life deepen in a way I could not even have envisioned. I also discovered the great joy of sharing the gospel with others.
After this year, my previous desires for prayer, community, and evangelization seemed insatiable.
Drawn closer and closer to Jesus
In the following years of college, I sought deeper intimacy with Jesus in prayer, intentional Christian community, and activity to spread His love with others. These things were present in my life in good ways, but, still, it was not enough.
My life was good — yet it was as if the desire on my heart for these goods was infinite. I longed for more, and I wanted to give of myself more and more. The closer the Lord drew me to Himself, the more I longed to be drawn closer still.
It was in this context that He began putting the thought of religious life on my heart more and more. I had, in passing, thought about it a few times throughout my life. But at this point, the invitation became consistently present in my prayer.
Though I had long desired marriage and motherhood, I came to realize vocational discernment was not about “my desires versus God’s call” — all my desires come from Him first. I finally realized that His will is what will truly bring about the greatest happiness for me.
I began to tell the Lord in prayer that I wanted what He wanted. The more I prayed this prayer, the more I meant it. Because I love Him, and love naturally seeks to unify with the beloved.
Seeking an answer right in front of me
When I began my college classes, I had not yet discerned religious life. But as fate would have it, I took a part-time position with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. This was simply a job and one that continued throughout my college years.
As I worked around these sisters, I very quickly fell in love with them. I was struck by their joyful peace, the way they loved one another, and the way they cared for me.
In these years, as it became apparent that the Lord was inviting me to consider religious life, I began to ask Him in which community He wanted me to dedicate my life to Him.
Truthfully, I was not thinking about the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration much, even though I knew the sisters all wanted me to do so. He works in good ways and was so patient with me when I was convinced I was not called to this community. Finally, I came to stay with the sisters for a weekend as a discernment visitor — in part simply to appease the sisters’ requests.
I was filled with great peace in those days.
There was one little moment in particular that continually stands out in my mind. As I was praying in our adoration chapel, the Lord began to invite me to recall the many, many moments in my life in which I had prayed for a greater Eucharistic love and that the entirety of my life would be ‘spent out’ in adoration of His most holy Eucharistic Body and Blood.
As Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, this is precisely our charism — to make of our whole lives a single act of adoration to our good God.
In the moment, I realized this is where He wanted me to dedicate myself to Him. For years, He had been instilling the charism of this community in my heart so that I would be prepared to receive the gift of the invitation to religious life in this community. From that moment on, I believed Jesus was inviting me to become a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.
Entering the convent, in love with the Lord
About a year after this experience, I graduated college and shortly after entered the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. I spent the first year living at the convent as a ‘postulant.’ This stage of living with the sisters was a year of transition into the community as I continued to postulate in my prayer if this is what the Lord desired of me.
In August 2017, I was invested as a sister. I received my religious name and habit — the distinctive clothing of religious men and women. For the next two years, I will continue my formation and discernment as a ‘novice,’ since I am so new to being a sister.
God-willing, in August 2019 I will profess my first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for a temporary period. Then five years later, I hope to profess perpetual vows and be consecrated to God in this community of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration for the rest of my life.
My discernment story is really quite simple. It’s just a story of falling in love with the good, good Lord. Then of falling in love anew. Then of falling even deeper in love with Him. It’s a story of continually coming to love Him more. His love guides everything.
Whether or not someone is discerning religious life, making a large life decision, or simply trying to find joy in daily duties, I guarantee that His love is seeking you even there. He wants to communicate His infinite love with you and draw you even deeper into His love to a personal and intimate love with He who is Love Itself!