I was adopted into a loving Catholic family as an infant. I praise God for the gift of life and I long to give my life back to Him in thanksgiving. Unfortunately, however, I didn’t always appreciate my faith. During my childhood, I was the type of kid who was bored at Mass and I didn’t fully understand my Catholic faith or the Sacraments. Upon entering high school, I encountered some challenging times. At one point, I was even tempted to join another religious denomination because I had never fully understood or appreciated my Catholic faith. I believed in God, but Catholicism, at the time, felt very difficult for me to embrace.
A Youth 2000 retreat during my junior year of high school changed my life forever. At home, I had been a bratty, mopey, strong-willed teenager. At school, I was a 4.5 GPA-perfectionist who wanted to look good on the outside to my teachers and friends. I was living two different lives.
At this Youth 2000 retreat, I walked into a gym full of over 500 teenagers, including many priests and religious in full habit singing praise and worship music. I was astounded! At first I wanted to run away, not knowing what was going on or why they were so excited. As the weekend went on, I questioned, What was it that they had? That closeness to Christ, that living for Him? I wanted that... I heard talks about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, about Mary and the Saints, about my Faith. I had NO idea that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist! I learned that Mary is truly my Mother and that the Saints are like our best friends in heaven who pray for us and give us examples to imitate.
…And then there were the Sisters! ...Young Sisters in full habit who were normal and played Frisbee with us. On that Saturday night during Eucharistic Adoration, I asked Jesus for His help and grace because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I needed Him. In an instant I loved my Faith. I loved the Church. I loved Jesus in the Eucharist and I wanted to become His Bride like the beautiful example of the Sisters around me. I left that weekend totally changed. My Mom, upon my return home, was very surprised at the transformation.
When I was four years old, I shared my desire to live my life for God with our pastor. He informed me that as a priest, he lived a life very similar to what I had expressed. I told him that I wanted be a priest for God when I grow up. The priest informed me I couldn't be a priest, but I could be a religious sister.
In my junior year of high school I came across an article in the Vision Magazine written by a Carmelite Sister of the Divine Heart of Jesus. She wrote about her desire for a balance of the contemplative life and the active life and how she found the best of both in this religious order. After reading the article I called the sisters and arranged a weekend visit. Everything the sisters told me, and everything that I observed, about this way of life spoke to my heart. After the visit, I asked to become a candidate.
I entered on Oct. 1st, 2003, the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Every day I continue to grow in my love and understanding for this way of life, and I thank and praise God that he has called me to serve him as a Carmelite Sister of the Divine Heart of Jesus.
"I want to be your hands. I want to be your feet. I'll go where you send me." It was while singing these words at a Steubenville Youth Conference that I first opened my heart to God's call. I joyously told God that I would do anything for him -- get married, be a sister, ANYTHING! I was thirteen years old and attending my first Steubenville conference. The conference was not only a life-changing rediscovery of my Catholic faith, it was also the first time I considered that God was calling me to a particular vocation, that He had a plan for my life, and that all I had to do was listen to Him.
As I started my freshman year of high school, I felt as though God was sending me "signs" that he wanted me to become a sister. When I seriously considered the possibility of religious life I couldn't stand the thought. Though I had for a moment at Steubenville surrendered my life to God and consented to whatever he wanted, the reality of what becoming a sister entailed hit me hard and I didn't want any part of it. I decided God's signs were just my imagination. After all, I liked boys, I considered myself "normal" (surely only weird people enter convents), and all sisters were old -- so I thought!