Vocation Story by Sister Mary Therese Krueger, PBVM
Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, IA
“What are you waiting for?” one of the sisters asked me at the Dubuque’s Got Sisters weekend I was attending for the third time. These words hit home as I found myself without an answer.
I first met the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM) in college at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. During my senior year, I was invited to participate in a service discernment trip to New Orleans sponsored by the Presentation Sisters. I observed the sisters in New Orleans responding to the needs of the people with love, hospitality and friendship. From that moment on I knew my life would never be the same.
However, I wasn’t quite sure how my life would be different when I returned from the trip. I was deeply inspired by the sisters and in such a short time, they felt like family. Was I called to serve the poor or maybe change career paths? I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what God was calling me to do as I desired marriage and a large family. I didn’t want to believe God was calling me to religious life.
I finished graduate school and started working as a physical therapist at Advocate Christ Medical Center, loving the work, people and relationships. I began to volunteer and also started a young adult ministry program at my parish. However, my time in New Orleans continued to stay at the forefront of my mind so I made a few more trips to visit the sisters there. It was through these visits that I began to realize God might be calling me to religious life to be a sister. I started attending a discernment group through the Joliet Diocese in Illinois and attended the Dubuque’s Got Sisters event three more times. Thus, the question from one wise sister, “What are you waiting for?”
As I reflected on this question, I realized that God wasn’t calling me to do anything different, or to change career paths, or to be a different person. God helped me realize that all God wanted was for me to be the best, most joyful version of myself. This is what was missing in my life. I strongly believe I could have been happily married with a family of my own, yet, God has called me to religious life and to profess the vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience. This call has provided me with an international family of Presentation people and I have been blessed with opportunities I could have never imagined for myself. I have been able to live a life full of joy, passion, service and love.
The Gospel message invites us to be fully present to those around us and to show love to one another. This call to hospitality moves us to listen, to dialogue and to welcome all people into our lives, especially those made most vulnerable in society. This in action was what lit my heart on fire in New Orleans and continues to keep my fire burning with love and joy as I live as a Presentation Sister.