I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the eldest of three girls. I was blessed to have a strong Catholic upbringing throughout my life, both in schooling and, more importantly, at home with my family. I remember attending Mass regularly with my elementary school and on Sundays with my family and saying prayers at home.
My first real thoughts about religious life probably started about the time I was in high school. My high school chaplain, as well as a religious sister at my parish, would from time to time casually pose the question to me if I’d ever considered religious life. I would also get comments from time to time from classmates, as I was a sacristan for my high school and was therefore in the chapel a lot. My response to the question, especially from peers, was “of course not!” I did not want people to think I was ‘weird’ or different from anyone else, so I simply brushed the question off. But seeds, however small, had been planted in my mind and heart.
I began college in the fall of 2003 at Franciscan University of Steubenville and was overwhelmed by the beautiful faith environment with which I was surrounded. During this time, I was able to come in contact with different women religious on campus, but I remained, for the most part, an ‘observer.’ I was still afraid to tell people about this ‘seed’ that was beginning to grow in my heart. Only a few close friends and my spiritual director (who I began seeing about halfway through my time there) knew these stirrings in my heart. The Lord, though, is so patient! He continued to pursue my heart, and I ever so slowly was beginning to open my heart to His call.
After college, I was blessed to be able to do a year of service with a group of religious brothers and sisters in New York City. During this year, I was able to live in community with other volunteers, observe the way the brothers and sisters lived, and visit other women’s religious communities in the area. I was also able to make a silent holy hour almost every day during this time, and it was here, in the silence of Eucharistic Adoration that the Lord won over my heart, and I was able to say yes to Him. I could no longer deny His proposal!
I then moved back to the Cleveland area, began to work full time, and continued to deepen my relationship with the Lord and wait on His timing. There were times of difficulty as I felt more and more confirmed in my call as time went on, but did not know where to go. It was then that the T.O.R. Sisters were re-introduced into my life by my roommate at the time, who was also discerning religious life. I knew about the T.O.R. Sisters from my time at Franciscan University (where the sisters are engaged in ministry on campus), but of course at the time I was a student I was not very open to actively looking into any order! However, the Lord’s timing is always perfect. I went on a come and see with them and simply had the experience of my heart feeling at home. No dramatic event or booming voice from the sky, just a sense that my heart finally rested here: I was where the Lord had been preparing me to be. As I spent time with the sisters, and learned more about their charisms and way of life, I felt more and more confirmed that this indeed was the Lord’s will. What joy this brought to my heart!!