“But those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ. I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth…”
(Phil 3: 7-8)
Born and raised in South Bend, IN, I lived just 20 minutes away from the motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, IN. I am very blessed to have been raised in a very good Catholic family. My parents love the Faith, and taught their children to love it, too, reminding us that the purpose in this life is to know, love, and serve God with all our hearts in this world to be happy with Him forever in the next.
I first thought of religious life in first or second grade, reading lives of the Saints in children’s books. As a junior in high school, I began attending the retreats the Sisters held at the convent for young women, and went to these for the rest of high school and part of college. By the time of college graduation, however, I decided that “having given God His chance,” religious life was not for me, and I began graduate studies at Michigan State University in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program. After spending time in three different labs, I joined my favorite lab at the end of my first academic year in graduate school. I was starting to “settle in” my new life and meet new people, and—since I thought I was called to be a holy married woman— started praying for a Catholic husband. At the same time, I was deepening my prayer life, reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and getting more involved in my parish in East Lansing. As I began to read Sacred Scripture more regularly, there was one Gospel story that seemed to “haunt” me (in a good way!), one question that seemed to resonate with my sense of feeling unfulfilled, despite having everything I wanted: the story of the rich young man. Jesus looks at this eager young man with love, as St Mark tells us, inviting him to something more, to more closely follow Him— and the rich young man could not do it. And so “he went away sad, because he had many possessions” (Mk 10:22). This Gospel story, which kept reappearing in various and sundry places, shook me to the core. I did NOT want to “go away sad” from Jesus’ look of love. The rich young man’s burning question of “What do I still lack?” became my own prayer, and Jesus’ invitation to religious life emerged as the answer.
It all came to a climax in September 2012 when God let me know it was time to move and answer His call that wouldn’t go away, but instead grew stronger. In a mysterious way, He touched me, and I knew God was calling me to be a Sister. Jesus, the Perfect Bridegroom, had claimed me for Himself! With this knowledge came an indescribable peace, joy, and certainty, which all stood in stark contrast to the emptiness and restlessness I was experiencing in my life. God was calling me, and He was calling me now. Strengthened by this knowledge, and the joy and peace that came with it, I re-initiated contact with Sister Lois, the vocations director of the Sisters of St Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and began the process of candidacy.
I also switched from the Ph.D. program to the Master’s program in my research at Michigan State, so that I could graduate and enter the convent the next entrance date. After graduating with my Master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in August 2013, I entered as a postulant on September 1st, 2013. I was invested as a Sister of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration on August 10, 2014. And on August 10, 2016 I professed the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, by which I am consecrated to Him as His bride! This is just the beginning of my adventure with Jesus!Sister Mary Augustine, Temporary Vows