When I was 36 years old, I was working as an LPN in a nursing home, had my own house, my own car, my friends. I thought my life was "all set!" I went to Mass daily after work, was active in Pro-Life activities...
I thought to myself, "What more is there in life?!" Well, GOD was preparing to answer that question in a way I never expected. In December of 1998, I went to confession just before Christmas at a penance service. I confessed to a priest I didn't know. He asked me, "Have you ever thought about being a sister?" I was really shocked and didn't really know what to say. I prayed about it, and decided to let go of it.
Six months later, I was praying with a group of Pro-Life friends at an abortion clinic - there was a priest with us that I again, didn't know! After the prayer service, he turned and asked me, "Have you ever thought about being a sister?" By this time, I knew GOD was really pursuing me. All I could do was PRAY with all my heart to really know the WILL of GOD! After a few months of "on my own prayer time" I realized that I really needed some help to discern this call. I called the priest I met at the prayer vigil at the abortion clinic and asked for spiritual direction, which Father very generously gave. I still spent a lot of time in prayer, especially in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
I filled out a "vocations discernment" postcard with information on my occupation, age, etc. Within a couple of weeks, I started receiving brochures on communities from all over the country. The first one I received was from the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of East Peoria. I called the vocations director and asked two specific questions. First, "Do you wear a religious habit?" Secondly, "Are you obedient to the Holy Father?" When sister answered "YES" to both questions, I knew I had to come and see. Of course, I was very enthused about their apostolate: Healthcare!!!
On my first visit, I sat and talked with the vocations director and was impressed by her joy and love for Christ in her religious life. I had one main challenge in mind, however. I didn't know how to tell my family about this vocation discernment. I was a Catholic convert from age 11 and the only Catholic in my family. Sister encouraged me to tell my family as soon as possible so that dialogue could begin and some of the stress from this announcement could be resolved early in the discernment process. After a great deal of prayer, I told my family of my vocation discernment. It was difficult at first, but as time went on, they realized that I was seriously considering this. They didn't understand, but eventually they said, "If this truly makes you happy, we want what you want!" Then, the next challenge was to get my house ready for sale. Much work had to be done to "fix it up!" I needed to learn how to budget my money more wisely and say "NO!" to some of the things in life that I thought were so "necessary." As my house repairs were being completed, I realized that GOD was teaching me to save money and truly strive toward a truly worthwhile goal! These two challenges helped me to let go of the attachments in life and really begin to "Seek GOD!" Of course, I still love my family--and they love me! And, as for the house, I can say that I enjoyed my time in the house, but I think GOD allowed me to have it in the first place to enable me to give HIM something that was truly "All Mine!" out of LOVE for HIM!!!!
I am so grateful for this opportunity to SEEK Christ and Love HIM in this community. One passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew comes to mind, "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all he has and buys it." Mt 13:45-46. I came into this community on August 11, 2002 and my life has been all the better for it. THANKS BE TO GOD!