"My passionate belief that God has created us for a life of joy and abundance finds its home in the gospel of life that the Sisters live out in their charism."
Growing up, I always had a sense that I was supposed to do something special with my life. As a child my heart was filled with dreams of what my life would become: a teacher, a scientist, or maybe even a doctor. There were so many things that I wanted to do, and so many options of what I could do, but there was one dream that seemed to hold a place deeper and more constant than all the others: to be a mother. As a little kid, I was fascinated with children. I would play “house” for hours and hours, taking care of my baby dolls as if they were real people. As I grew older, I left the baby dolls behind for my little cousins, and babysitting became one of my favorite activities. I realized early on that I had a deep love for children, and I couldn’t wait to be a mom one day.
In my life, I have spent a lot of time with children, but there is one in particular who left such a mark on my heart that I still remember it today. When I was 14 years old, I went on a mission trip with my church back home. We spent a week that summer working at a day camp for children, most of which were in the foster care system. During this week, I met a little boy who was just five years old. He was a feisty little five-year-old, you may even say angry, as much as a little kid can be mad at the world. Every day he would cause a scene in the classroom. He would scream and throw things, always getting himself into trouble. At five years old, he had bounced around foster homes and had shut himself off from the world. It took me days to get him to talk to me, but something in me was so drawn to this little boy. After a week of talking with him, he had turned from angry and mean to gentle and sweet. At the end of the week, it was time for us to leave and go back home. In my 14 years of life, I think that had been the hardest goodbye I had ever said. As I gave him one last big hug, he looked me in the eye and whispered, “thank you for loving me like no one ever has”. Just one week, and a little bit of love, was enough to change this little boy, and to change me. I went home from that trip convinced that God was real, that He had created that boy, and that He loved him. Years later, as I reflect on this trip, I believe that God used this moment to teach me something important about the power of love, and to grow in my heart a love for children and for life that was just the beginning of my vocation.
I returned from this trip and went back to my normal life. I am from a small town in Massachusetts and have three sisters. We lived with my mom and dad growing up and were raised in the Catholic Church. We lived a pretty normal life: going to school, playing sports, and going to Mass on Sundays. I went to high school and continued on to college where I studied biochemistry and psychology. I was hoping to go to med school one day, as I was still searching for that special purpose of my life.
After my first few years of college, I began to really struggle. I had drifted away from my faith to live the college lifestyle that everyone tells you will make you happy, and yet I felt empty. Everything felt dull and dark, and I found myself thinking “this can’t be what God created life for”. It was in this place that I encountered Jesus in a new and personal way. I began to live my life differently because I had begun to learn that God loves me, and that His love for me is everything. Overtime, the darkness that had covered my life before had been filled with the light and joy of Christ. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” was a word that God spoke deeply to my heart in the early days of my conversion as I began to understand His gift of life and love.
My heart continued to grow as God filled it with himself, and suddenly, my dreams of med school didn’t satisfy me anymore. I grew confused and restless, unsure of what my life was for and what to do next. It was then that I began to ask God this question “what is my life for?”. My senior year, in a leap of faith, I rerouted my plans and decided not to apply for med school after graduation. I had some extra room in my schedule and decided to take a class on the foster care system. I was reminded of those children I had met when I was 14 and my heart burned for them. This class, alongside a deeply graced season of conversion, inspired in me a deep desire to love those who haven’t been loved – and to “foster” a place of life for them. I didn’t know where this would take me, but I knew that my heart was made to love, and I was eager to give my love generously.
For the past few years, this desire has been fulfilled through serving as a missionary with FOCUS. My time as a missionary allowed me to welcome others into my heart and to cultivate a space of life and love for them. Not long after I began serving God in this way, did I recognize the gift He had for me in it all. I was living a life that allowed me to care for God’s children, those who He promised He would not leave orphaned, and to give them a home in my heart and in His. My normal role as a missionary began to cultivate in me a spiritual motherhood that brought me to life more than anything I had done before; it was as if God was entrusting particular souls to me and my care. My whole life I had always thought I would have my own family, so I never gave religious life much thought. As I lived this life of generous receptivity and maternal care, I began to realize the real magnitude of spiritual motherhood that was possible as a fruit of my love for Jesus. I was encountering the reality that so many of God’s children are living a life without love, and I longed to bring them close to Him. Jesus continued to call me closer to Himself, and overtime, I began to hear His invitation in the quietest places of my heart.
It was in these years as a missionary that I met the Sisters of Life and felt drawn to their community. I didn’t know why or what it meant at the beginning, and I encountered a lot of fear in my heart. After a couple of retreats, I was confident in God’s love for me and received the invitation to live a life consecrated to God and began the discernment process. It began in small ways, and was a very patient process, but as I have continued to grow in trust and surrender to the Lord, I have come to realize the deep desires in my heart and how God wishes to fulfill them through a vocation to the religious life.
This journey continues to make sense of all the pieces of my life, as God brings them all together in Himself. My deep love for children is maturing into an invitation to spiritual motherhood, an overflow of my relationship with God and His kindness to me. My passionate belief that God has created us for a life of joy and abundance finds its home in the gospel of life that the Sisters live out in their charism. And most of all, that “special” thing that I had spent my life looking for, isn’t something I will do, but someone I will become. It is a special love that God has built into my heart from the very beginning – a love from Him and for Him that was never part of my own dreams but was always part of His plan.