Sarah Yurgelaitis

My name is Sarah Yurgelaitis. I am a cradle Catholic and I have always loved my Faith, although for many years it was more in my head and an ideology or a moral code rather than in my heart as a relationship with a Person as it is meant to be.

My mom was not Catholic when I was very young, but she was drawn to the Catholic Faith, and one of the best things she ever did for me was to teach me that the Blessed Virgin is my true mother. I always understood that, even from a very young age. And it is due to Our Lady that I am responding to the call of my vocation.

My mom entered RCIA and finally became Catholic the same year I was making my first Communion. She was hungry for the Faith, and I learned a lot about it since she was always listening to EWTN, and audio tapes of Scott Hanh, Patrick Madrid, and others. Through middle school and high school, I was homeschooled with a very Catholic curriculum and learned even more. I was always drawn to the things of God and loved learning about Him., but because of generational wounds of co-dependency, ungodly self-reliance, and perfectionism, I did not have a true image of Him. I loved Him, and I had a degree of a relationship with Him, but it was based more on servile fear than the love of a child for her Father. I believed I had to earn God’s love, and that my value to Him was in what I could do for Him and how I could serve Him. That is what I understood my identity to be.
I thought I was open to the idea of religious life when I was a girl. I remember trying to find out how one becomes a nun when I was ten and we first got dial-up internet in our home. But it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I felt the call to religious life very strongly in my heart one Sunday at Mass. And it absolutely terrified me. I did not understand the Lord’s personal and unique love for me. I thought the only way I could be loved for myself was to get married. And I thought He was asking me to give that up to lose myself in an amorphous identity of “nun.” I begged Him not to ask that of me, and I tried to convince Him that I could do so much more for Him if He let me get married and raise a huge Catholic family of little saints for Him.
I thought the matter was settled and I was sure I had convinced Him. I would only let myself look at and consider marriage. There was still a whisper of a draw to religious life throughout the years that would creep in sometimes, but I would quickly snuff it out the moment I recognized it.
When I was twenty-four, I fell into a relationship with a man that was fraught with sexual, emotional, and mental abuse. I stayed in that relationship for six years through his manipulation and cheating, because I believed I had to “fix it.” I believed God was ashamed of me and that I “should have known better, so I deserved it.” I didn’t think I could show my face to Him, not really, until I fixed what I had broken. I distracted myself with other things, going back to school to start a new career and throwing myself into my work of caring for children with Autism.
But when 2020 came and everything shut down, so did the school where I worked. I no longer had anything to distract me from just how bad the relationship was and how much pain I was in. I fell into a dark apathy and depression. I wished that I would just die except I was convinced I would go to Hell if I did.
That spring, my mom bought me a book on a Church-approved Marian apparition I had never heard of before – Our Lady of Kibeho. I began to read it, and the way Our Lady spoke to the visionaries went straight to my heart. She spoke to them like they truly were her beloved children, and somehow it felt like she was speaking directly to me. I knew she loved me as my mother then, no matter what I had done and what mistakes I had made. I began to pray the rosary and the Seven Sorrows rosary daily. I was led to a podcast called Divine Intimacy Radio, produced by EWTN, and I began to learn about mental prayer as it is taught in the Carmelite tradition according to St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. I realized this was the key to my Faith that I had been hungering for and what I had been missing all along. But though I was learning about mental prayer, I did not yet put it into practice. I was still too scared to go to Jesus. I felt like I had betrayed Him and abandoned Him and I could not show my face before Him. It was only after months of praying the rosary that I felt like Our Lady was telling me it was finally time and I needed to go to Him. So, I began a habit of daily mental prayer. And I began to truly encounter Jesus for the first time in my life. Those encounters were not at all what I had expected. He did not yell at me or rebuke me at all. He was so gentle and seemed so happy to see me. I began to realize He had no desire to punish me or shame me. He was much more concerned with healing my broken heart.
Slowly, as I went to prayer every day, I began to trust Him, and for the first time in my life, I began to truly know Him. And as the months passed, I began to fall in love with Him and I realized His love was the love I had been searching for. I had run away from Him because I thought He was going to ask me to give up what I wanted most, to be loved for myself -when that was the very thing He had been desiring to give me all along.
The desire for religious life was back on my heart, but I waited a year to mention it to my spiritual director to make sure it wasn’t a new-found enthusiasm from my reversion. But the more time passed, the stronger my desire to enter religious life grew until it was all I could think about. I received permission from my spiritual director to begin discerning religious life in September 2021. I always knew, even as a little girl convinced I was called to marriage that if I was to become a nun, I would want to be a Carmelite. So I began discerning with Carmelite communities and in November 2022, I was accepted into aspirancy at the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant of Prague in Traverse City, MI.

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