My name is Sr. Sarah Rose and I grew up the third of eight children in a strong Catholic family. I was blessed to go to Catholic school in Michigan for both elementary and high school. Another immense blessing was graduating from Franciscan University in May of 2007 with my bachelor’s in Mental Health. God has done much in preparing me for this call to be His Bride. I just wanted to share with you a little bit of my journey with the Lord to the Franciscan Sisters.
I think the first time I consciously thought about the real possibility of religious life was the spring semester of my sophomore year attending Franciscan University. I was able to go to Austria that semester in the university’s study abroad program. During that semester, I found myself being drawn more and more to Our Lord in the Eucharist and a friend and I decided to start making a holy hour everyday along with daily Mass. It was during one of these holy hours that the thought came to me, “Oh my gosh, I think I’m supposed to be a nun! Ahh!” I freaked out! There was no way! I guess I had always thought I would meet some great guy at school, get married, and have a dozen children. I decided I needed to talk to someone about this and asked Sr. Della Marie (one of the T.O.R. sisters in Austria). When we chatted, I felt so much more at peace. She said that God was simply pursuing my heart right now and I don’t need to figure out my vocation or worry about it.
During my junior year God really worked through a few retreats I had. One specifically stands out, a women’s retreat. We had a holy hour and during it each woman was given a rose to lay before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When I laid mine down, I told Him – “Jesus, this is my life, I lay it at Your feet, whatever You desire, Jesus.” What freedom to surrender and also what joy the Lord gives us in doing so!
The summer after my junior year, I really started thinking and praying more about religious life. One day my mom asked me what I was going to do after graduating and I told her I was thinking about religious life. She was excited and we looked up different communities nearby that I could visit. I visited a few and they were beautiful but just not exactly what I was looking for. I knew there were the T.O.R. sisters on campus at Franciscan so I looked up their website. When I pulled it up on the computer – I just started crying! I looked at everything I could – their prayer life, ministries, formation process, work, and knew that I had to visit when I went back to school. I called the vocation director and went to their Vocation Discernment Retreat and come and see – when I visited I saw that the sisters were so fun and I loved their rhythm of prayer, work, and ministry, but most importantly, I simply felt an inner peace that this was the one!
Over Christmas break, I was immensely blessed to have an Ignatian eight day silent retreat. I never knew how much God can speak through the silence. I was given Scripture passages to read and then picture myself there – What would it look like? What would I hear, smell, taste? Who is speaking? What’s going on in this passage? This way of prayer totally changed me – it was so amazing to be with Jesus throughout His life. Anyway, one of the passages was the washing of the feet of the Apostles. Jesus was washing their feet and I was there thinking, “Oh no, my feet are so dirty! I don’t want Him to see them!” But then He knelt in front of me and looked into my eyes and I knew that He saw and knew my whole self, even the “dirty” parts and loved me. He asked me, “Will you let Me wash your feet?” And it was more than that – it was like – “Will you let Me provide for you? Will you let Me take care of you?” I gazed at Him and my “Yes!” came from the deepest part of my being.
Toward the end of my senior year at Franciscan, I still felt like I needed more time to pray and think about religious life. After graduating, I was blessed to work at a Special Education school in Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation for a year as a teacher. I had five young men in my classroom who were severely disabled. We had so much fun together! I will never forget them and those I worked with. I learned a lot about motherhood by being a sort of “mother” to my students.
During this time, a friend of mine was pregnant and she and her husband were such a beautiful witness to me of married life. It was very special for me to be with her at that time, and also a little difficult and good for me to see what I was giving up. I remember when I first held their little boy – I just thought – what a gift! What a miracle and gift our lives are from God! This moment made me desire to give this gift of my life back to Him, to be only His.
I want to thank my parents and siblings for their inspiring love and support for me. Please keep me in your prayers! May God give you peace and joy!