I first was exposed to the idea of religious life when I was 16 years old. I heard a priest talk about vocations on Vocations Sunday at my parish. Shortly afterward, religious life left my mind. After high school, I went to a state college for a semester, but I didn’t like it. I decided to get a job and work instead of pursuing a degree. I used to watch The 700 Club in the morning while getting ready for work. Just before my 19th birthday, while watching it I called in and gave my life to Christ. I realized that to follow Him I had to give of myself and not just receive. As a result, I started getting involved in my Catholic parish.
In 1988 I went on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. with my diocese. While there, I felt particularly drawn to the Pieta image, and spent some time praying in front of Our Lady holding the Body of her Son. (This will be significant later). On the bus ride back home, I heard what seemed like an audible voice say to me: “You are called to be a sister.” My response was, “I don’t want to be a sister!” And then I thought to myself, “Well, if I have to be a sister I want to be a missionary sister.” I went to speak with some sisters about my vocation and they gave me a publication entitled Your Choice. It included hundreds of postcards I could send to different missionary religious communities to request more information about them. I sent away many of the postcards to different communities, but none of the information I received back appealed to me. I said to myself, “Oh well, I tried, but that didn’t work.”
Around this time, I began going to daily Mass at my parish, reading the Bible, and praying the rosary with EWTN. I was at that time that I found out about Franciscan University of Steubenville and decided to attend in the fall of 1989. In that first semester at Franciscan my spiritual life began to blossom. I went to Adoration all the time (instead of studying!- not recommended). I again heard that same voice asking me to be a sister. This time my response was different. My heart was totally changed and religious life became my heart’s desire. I attended Life in the Spirit seminars and made my Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I felt called to be a Franciscan and began to look at communities. Through my time on campus I came to know the Franciscan Sisters, TOR.
I visited other communities including the Poor Clares, but I felt called to this community because of their devotion to Divine Mercy, the Eucharist, and Mary. I entered in 1991.
A few years after entering community, my classmate and I went to the March for Life and I was able to visit once again the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I wanted to go through the same door that I went through when I visited there for the first time on the diocesan pilgrimage. When I went through it I looked up and the words above the door said “Behold Your Vocation”. I was deeply moved. It was here that the Lord first stirred in my heart the desire for religious life. I also realized that the pilgrimage that began my search for my vocation was in the same year that our community was founded, 1988, and little did I know that when praying in front of the Pieta I was praying in front of the patroness of my future community that was currently in the process of being founded.