Monday, November 06, 2006

God, are you sure?

I know it seems odd for me to post something twice in one week, but I wanted to share with you something that I wrote this morning. I received a phone call from Sr. Gretchen asking if I would be willing to write an article for our archdiocesan news paper. They always publish a special edition to promote vocations in the archdiocese.

So, I thought I would share the article with you. Enjoy!

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God, are you sure?

If anyone would have told me when I graduated from college that I would go on to enter religious life, I would have said, “Who? Me? Are you kidding?” And yet, here I am – a first year novice with the Marianist Sisters (the Daughters of Mary Immaculate). As I look back on my life, though, I can definitely see how God’s been guiding me in this direction a long time.

I’ve been Catholic all my life. I went to Catholic schools 1st through 12th grades and was active in campus ministry in college. Through all those years I never seriously considered religious life. For one, I always thought that religious life was only for the “really holy.” I had also imagined my adult life with husband and kids. Don’t all young women?

While I was in college I spent a great deal of my time doing ministry at the Catholic student center. Therefore, as the time for graduation approached I felt a strong desire to stay active in ministry as a career. A friend of mine at the time asked me if I had considered religious life. I blew him off. I planned to continue being an active, lay woman in the Church.

I began my teaching career as a science teacher – mostly chemistry and a little biology. However, the principals at various schools kept asking me if I would teach in the theology department (I was working toward a masters in theology at St. Mary’s University). As it turns out, I spent most of my years teaching religion and working in campus ministry.

While I was teaching at Central Catholic High School I began to learn more about Marianist spirituality. Central Catholic and St. Mary’s University are owned by the Society of Mary – Marianist Brothers and Priests. The more I learned about the spirituality, the more connected I felt to it. It was as if everything I had always believed about God and the Church finally had a name – Marianist. I decided to become a committed Lay Marianist.

It wasn’t until I left teaching to become a college campus minister that the idea of religious life came to me as a viable option. A thought occurred to me – “Why not?” I thought I would be able to come up with at least a few dozen reasons why not. But I really couldn’t.

I suppose, like any young person discerning religious life, my first thoughts were of whether or not I could let go of the idea of raising a family and whether or not I was “good enough” to live the life. I mentioned to a good friend and mentor of mine, Fr. Mike Sis (now vocations director for the Diocese of Austin) that I was considering religious life. He let me borrow a book that helped put a few things in perspective – Vocations Anonymous by Sr. Kathleen Bryant, RSC.

In her book, Sr. Kathleen discusses her own struggles with discernment. One thing this book helped to see in a different light was family and marriage. She writes about the many ways that religious bring life into the world. Every person is called to bring forth and nurture new life. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be biologically. I had never considered that before.

I also had to struggle through the, “I’m not worthy” issue. I am constantly reminded of the fact that God doesn’t call perfect people. If so, no one would be called to religious life. One doesn’t have to be at a certain level of holiness to enter religious life. The person just has to be open.

Therefore, I entered the Marianist Sisters in the fall of 2005. This year I am discerning more deeply as a novice. Do I still wonder sometimes, “Why me?” Sure. But I trust in God’s plan.
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God works in such amazing ways. One would think I would be use to it by now. But, I am continually in awe of the many ways God encourages, challenges, and supports - all in one situation!
Many blessings on your week!
Sr. Nicole