Vocation Story by Sister Sarah Kohles, OSF
Through my vocation journey I learned that what seems like it makes no sense is often exactly what God is calling me to do.
I was eleven years old the first time I thought about becoming a sister. After I said my prayers and was in bed for the night, I started imagining what it might be like to be a sister.
Then I realized what I was considering and thought, “This is crazy!”
But I continued to think about it anyway and felt a wave of deep peace settle over me. I remember distinctly thinking, “An eleven-year-old is not supposed to know something like this.”
The next morning, I decided that even if it was true and even if I did become a sister one day, it was still crazy, and no one would believe me. After all, I was the oldest of five kids and well known as an instigator of trouble in my family. Really, my younger sister was the sweet, quiet one in my family. She would be the better candidate, the more believable sibling to become a sister. No one would choose me!
When it became time to discern where I would go to college, I figured out that different Catholic colleges and universities were often founded by religious communities. I learned about the differences between charisms (Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.) based on what colleges said about their founding charisms. Thus, I encountered the Dubuque Franciscans through the college they founded, Briar Cliff University. My prayer during my last year of high school centered around Genesis 12 when God told Abram and Sarai to “go to the land I will show you.” For me, this meant, “Go to the college I will show. Go to the religious community I will show you.”
During my college experience, I managed to visit the motherhouse of the Dubuque Franciscans at Mount St. Francis multiple times before I was ready to talk about the possibility of my becoming a sister. I felt at home when I arrived and was certain I would return. The number of aging sisters and lack of anyone my age did not stop a sense of rightness from settling over me.
Over spring bring break during my sophomore year I shared my call to religious life with my family. They were generally supportive, though they didn’t fully understand. Some family members even tried to talk me out of it. In time those who know me best realized that this way of life is a good fit for me.
I entered religious life after college and somewhere along the way during formation I realized I was joyful and thriving.