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Vocation Stories

Sr. Mary Elizabeth

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.

 I attended college in spite of my fervent desire to enter the convent right after high school. It was good for me. I needed time to “grow up”, to mature after my mountaintop experience. I decided to major in Theology, not wanting to give my life to anything else but Christ and His Church, whatever form that might take.

In college, I met and dated some wonderful young men, which also drew me back toward thoughts of marriage. At one point, I had gotten so far from my call to the religious life that it wasn’t even an option in my mind anymore. Suddenly I no longer wanted to be a Sister…that was a naive teenage dream. Who was I to think I could possibly do that?! I talked too much, I was too weak, not the right type of person to become a Sister, not pious enough…and I liked boys…that was a problem, right? ...Wrong! I learned that my natural desires to be a wife and mother are totally fulfilled in the religious life, but in a spiritual way.

In the end, it was the last young man I dated who sat me on my front porch one night on a front-porch swing. He looked at me and told me that I needed to consider the religious life again: “I see you at Mass, I see you on retreats, I see you at prayer…there’s something there that you have to discern before you date anybody else!” I covered my ears and begged him to stop. I gave him all my excuses about how I’d never make a good sister, and he just listened patiently. Finally, he took my hands off my ears and put them in my lap, saying, “Elizabeth, the King of the Universe is on His knee asking you to be His Bride and you’re telling Him ‘no’.” I suddenly realized I had been running. The grace of my original call that had grown and matured came rushing back. I cried...and then I said, “Yes”.

I went on a retreat with some Sisters and finally to our Carmelite Sisters. I had a great attraction to the Carmelite saints, especially St. Therese. I had found our order online during high school after Youth 2000 via Google. I knew I felt called to be a Carmelite, but not cloistered. In turn, I had been in contact with our community for several years before asking to enter. I went on a few vocation retreats and finally asked to enter mid-way through college. Because of a full-scholarship, it was determined that I should finish college, and therefore I was a candidate for my last years of college. I entered the summer following my college graduation and I made my First Profession of Vows in July 2014. God is so good and His mercy is endless. Praise Him for never giving up on me!