“Girls can’t be priests?”
My 10-year-old world was shattered. I guess I’d have to be a nun.
Here’s my story.
I haven’t always been Catholic. My dad would take my sister and me to church occasionally. I was excited for the donuts in the KC Hall after Mass!
It got to the point where I told my father I wanted to go to church every Sunday – probably still for the donuts. After completing “little kid RCIA,” as I call it, I was baptized at age 7.
The following year my younger sister decided to get baptized as well. A year later my father was granted an annulment from his previous marriage, and my parents were married in the church when I was in fourth grade.
I remember thinking how beautiful it was to see my mom receive her first Holy Communion on their new wedding day. You see, my mom was raised Methodist and joined RCIA about the same time all these baptisms and annulment applications were happening.
Now the whole family was Catholic!
Blessed with a really kick-butt home parish, I got involved in everything possible. I started altar serving, helped my mom on the flower guild, and even founded the middle school youth group. I probably went a bit overboard when I would agree to altar serve two, three Masses a day. I just couldn’t get enough of being at church!
In high school I was at every event. Never missed a retreat, mission trip, social, lock-in.
I may have been one of those youth groupies. You know the type: always lurking in the youth room, dropping by the church offices just to say “hi.”
It got to the point where I was even attending two different youth groups each Sunday! But the relationships I made during those formative years forever changed me. My church family has been the biggest influence in making me who I am today.
I first experienced adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a freshman in high school.
We were in Laredo, Texas, staying with the community of St. John for a mission trip. Their chapel is simple and dark but so beautiful…probably because Jesus was there.
I can remember not wanting to leave adoration. I just stayed and prayed while the rest of the youth group had gone back to the retreat center.
The quiet solitude found in the loving gaze of Our Savior was incredible. Why would you not want to be kneeling in front of Jesus?
My junior year of high school I met my first real-life nun: Sr. Clare Hunter, FSE.
Boy was she something!
The fact that she was fun, outgoing, enthusiastic, not ancient made me think that being a nun was seriously something to consider. You can be happy serving Him who made us and look good while doing it! (I’ve always thought nuns look like total rock stars with their veils.)
Sr. Clare invited me to consider attending the University of St. Thomas. She even promised me a job in her office!
A nun suggests a college and tells you you’ll get to work by her side? I’d be crazy not to accept! All the other colleges seemed to be insignificant compared to this choice, and I am now a proud double graduate of UST.
An online dater
In college, one really has the opportunity to be yourself and own your choices. You also get to make choices that can later be justified with “But I was in college!”
I dated, sought love, even joined CatholicMatch.com a few times!
But was I listening to what God wanted me to do? Had I forgotten that 10-year-old me wanted to be a nun?
All these tangled emotions kicked my prayer life into overdrive. Journaling, spiritual reading, finding an awesome spiritual director.
But The Call came in November 2010 at my friend Brother James Claver’s first vows. He was one of those crucial relationships from high school, a BFF, you might say.
He was kneeling on the altar, facing the crucifix, giving himself to Jesus.
In my heart I felt an overpowering desire to do the same.
In my heart I heard: “Give yourself to me.”
“That’s a pretty clear message, Jesus. How would you like me to do that?”
Then, in January of 2011, enter the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist – in my hometown, no less!
How gorgeous and rock star-ish, they looked in the front pew at the Diocesan Mass for Life!
My friend informed me that they were a relatively new order who had been invited to town by one of my favorite bishops, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who is now serving in New Orleans.
I spoke with Sr. Elizabeth Ann, OP, and told her, “I think I need to be a nun.”
She put her arm around me and the deal was sealed. Happy, joyful, habit-wearing sisters who are young, personable, and friendly?
SIGN ME UP!
A week later I started the application process and was accepted into the community in April 2011. Praise Him!
God’s timing is so perfect, and my inner 10-year-old is thrilled beyond belief!