It is hard for me to believe it has been six years since I began seriously discerning. God had prepared me in so many ways for that journey and I can never be grateful enough. My parents made sure I was well educated in the Catholic faith which allowed me to be open to religious life early on. The first inclinations towards religious life came around third or fourth grade. Through high school I did not spend much time considering a vocation, but once I had to decide on colleges and majors the question of “What should I do?” resounded in my mind. A faith-based university was important to me since I did not attend a Catholic school growing up. I had certainty in where God wanted me to attend school but I still wondered, “What did He want me to do?” I knew that if I would spend my life doing something it had to be what God had planned for me and through it I would be able to do “good” in the world. When I thought of all the things I ‘would like’ to do, I could not justify giving my whole self to any of them. So I started my fall semester as a freshman with my major undeclared because nothing seemed “enough.”
While at the university I played on the basketball team and through that met one of our sisters who acted as our spiritual support. I still was somewhat scared of discernment and at first worked hard to avoid the idea. However as the season went on I came to know the sister and found we had many common interests; being a sister started to become less and less foreign. During our shooting practices I gave in to my curiosity and began to ask her about her life and why she decided to become a sister. After that first season was over I was comfortable with the discernment process and knew it was really about discovering what God wanted me to do and not just what he “wanted” me to do but about the beautiful future he had in mind for me.
As I began this process of discernment I spent more time in prayer and going to the sacraments, all the while asking “What should I do?” During my second semester I decided on a social work major but the question of religious life was still unsettled. Throughout the summer discernment was still on my mind, and when it came time for the fall semester of my sophomore year, I took every opportunity to explore religious life. I was very attracted to religious life and not only that but the particular way that our sisters lived religious life. The spirit and joy of the sisters was tangible and I wanted to be a part of it. I attended community prayers with the sisters and continued to ask questions about religious life and discernment. They encouraged me to take more time for personal prayer because it was God who was leading me and the more contact I had with Him the more peace I would have in my heart. During my sophomore year a couple opportunities came up for me to visit the sisters’ Motherhouse. Each time I went, I felt “at home” with the sisters and experienced much peace during my stay with them. It became clear as the semester continued that my only desire was to become a sister. Every other desire I had up to that point had faded away; I no longer had a desire to finish my social work major nor did I have a desire to play basketball like I used to. Towards the end of the semester I visited the Motherhouse during a four-day break. Just thinking that I could be in the convent a year from then brought me so much joy. The Lord had given me such grace and certainty that during that visit I requested to enter the community.
When I returned to the university my close friends shared my joy and assured me of their support. Around this time I shared with my parents my intentions to enter the convent. They were always supportive but in the beginning it was a little bittersweet because they would also have to renounce their own desires. My parents both were able to see me interact with the community and received much peace, seeing clearly that it was part of God’s plan for me to enter. The spring before I entered, I spent my semester studying abroad. I traveled to beautiful pilgrimage sites and studied theology, but all the while I knew my heart was in Mishawaka. Even though I saw many beautiful and holy things my most beautiful time abroad was spent before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I can only be grateful for God’s overflowing grace. He called me to this vocation and placed within my heart the desire to be with Him.Sister Ignatia, Temporary Vows