"I had always believed that the calling to serve God was a great mystery. It had always been presented to us as a terrifying possibility. But, if you were truly called and chose to answer, a great peace would descend upon you. It would feel right, all doubt would disappear…[and] you fell into the arms of your beloved, and there you'd remain."
The Calling, Catherine Whitney
I first stumbled across this passage two weeks before Entrance Day, and from that first moment something about it has resonated within me. These few sentences express my experience to this point far more eloquently or precisely than I ever could, and so I felt that they would provide a nice departure point for introducing myself and explaining how it is that I got here.
I was raised primarily in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC in a very loving and closely knit family including my parents, John and Millie, and my siblings Kelly, 17, and Chris,15. My family was fairly religious, and yet my only exposure to religious until my arrival at Immaculata University was through my Aunt Peg, who is a Sister of Mercy, but whom I have always thought of as simply "Aunt Peg." Despite my lack of exposure to religious life, the idea of "becoming a nun" first occurred to me when I was in fifth grade. From that time on, the idea occasionally resurfaced throughout the next eight years, only to be pushed aside by the demands of school, dance class, dating and, of course, the fear of what such a call would require of me.
I managed to outrun my vocation successfully until I was a freshman at Immaculata. When I enrolled at Immaculata, I had absolutely no intention of entering the convent and I had actually resolved not to even consider such a possibility. But, let's face it…if you're trying to outrun a religious vocation, Immaculata is probably not the best place to take up residence. Thus, within two months of my arrival at IU, I found myself sitting in Sister Kathleen Ann's office pouring out my heart's every desire. I am convinced that it is only through her guidance that I had the courage to take those steps that were required of me, and it is now her daily intercession on which I rely to help me face the path that lies ahead.
I remained at Immaculata for three years where I was blessed to study under and live alongside many wonderful sisters. The sisters at the university have been a constant inspiration to me since my first days as a freshman and continue to be wonderful models of what it means to be a joyful and unreservedly dedicated servant of the Lord. Many sisters have had profound impacts on my decision to embrace my vocation and enter the IHM community, but none so profoundly as Sister Elaine Glanz. Sister Elaine has provided me with a challenge to grow in religious life, shared abundant wisdom, and most importantly has been an exemplary model.
My time at Immaculata provided me with many opportunities to explore religious life, including a month long stay with our sisters in Peru. During my time in Peru, I lived primarily at San Antonio in Callao, but visited all of the other missions. It was during this time that I truly fell in love with the charism and work of the community and with community life in general. I am forever grateful to those sisters, especially those at San Antonio, for allowing me to share in their life and work. I know that I have left a part of myself behind in Peru, and so I hope one day to return and work among the most abandoned and the poor of South America. During my time at Immaculata I was also fortunate to complete the first part of my student teaching at upper Villa and to work at Camilla Hall. These two opportunities were powerful experiences of seeing the community charism in action.
Shortly after returning from Peru, I experienced such a sense of "terrible rightness" that I knew I had to take the next step and apply for Entrance for September, 2001. In applying for entrance for the autumn of 2001 I decided to forego a typical senior year and all the little perks that accompany it, but I have never regretted my decision to enter before graduation.
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