All that I am attracted to in life has drawn me into becoming a vowed woman religious. My innate artistic sensitivities to beauty, holiness, suffering, and magnificence combined with my inquisitiveness about life has led me to understand myself as one who searches for God in all things and wants to bear God to all things.
Growing up in a loving, churchgoing family and in a good public school, I was able to develop my artistic and intellectual gifts; but during high school, I felt lacking in knowledge and development of my Catholic faith. Because of this, I was drawn to attend Marywood University to study art education. It was there that I found the missing piece for me—in the IHM Sisters who served on campus. They had developed their artistic and intellectual gifts; but they were using these gifts in serving others, in working for justice, and in glorifying God. They were joyful, wholesome women who embodied both human and divine. Through my interactions with these sisters, I learned more about who God is and how to pray to God in a more meaningful way. They became significant role models for me.
Despite taking in all I could in college—being active in campus ministry, dating, making art and music, and studying abroad—I still ached inside to know God more and ached over the injustice and violence in our world. I was quietly discerning becoming a sister, thinking I had to know for sure whether I wanted to be a sister before approaching the vocation director. In fact, the IHM vocation director had to do some initiating first.
During my senior year of college, I decided to become an affiliate, as I knew I wanted to join this congregation after finishing school. However, these women of wisdom knew it would be important to work in the “real world” for at least a year, and that if God does call IHM to be my home, I would continue to feel that pull in my heart. After student teaching in the fall, I got a job near home teaching high school art. Those first six months of teaching and being away from my “Marywood home” were painful. I wanted to enter the congregation the coming fall, but God wasn’t following the same calendar and the Holy Spirit had another idea.
With the help of the IHM congregation, I discerned a different possibility. In August of 2005, I moved in with the IHM Sisters at St. Ann’s Convent in Harlem, NY, eager to participate in their way of life. That year I learned a lot from my sisters in community and grew a great deal myself. By the end of that year, I was ready to enter the IHM community as a candidate.
Much has happened in the years that prepared me to make my first profession in July 2009, but my desire—and God’s desire—that calls me to carry on and live out this life remains the same. My deepest desire is to become completely in union with God, to grow spiritually to manifest Christ’s light, love, and peace to God’s people and for the Earth. With the help of my faith, I give myself to the cycle of suffering and dying, rising, growing, and giving to be one with God and God’s people. When I reflect on my life, I am assured of who I am and that God has led me home to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.