My name is Megan Rose Vielhauer. I was born on March 7, 2001 at St. Joseph’s Hospital right across the state line between Kansas and Missouri. My parents, David and Renee, met in high school and were married by the ages of 19 and 21.
I am the youngest of three kids. My brother, Derek, is the oldest and my sister, Maddy, follows right behind him.
When my sister was a sophomore in high school, she attended a Steubenville conference that visibly changed her. I could see the joy when she got back. She felt on fire for a faith that I was sleepwalking through. I dreaded going to Sunday Mass and would debate faking an illness to get out of it. But being the adoring little sister, I was intrigued by this change in her and asked about it. Around the same time, a recently ordained priest became the pastor of our parish. He started giving talks on Wednesday nights and Maddy invited me to come. So, alongside the older parishioners, my sister and I soaked up every talk. He had a fire and joy for the Church that I had never seen in a priest. Soon enough, Maddy and I were attending daily Mass over our summer break. My eyes started to open to all the things I was blind to before. The richness of His Church was captivating my little 12-year-old heart. The summer before my freshman year, I was able to attend the conference that sparked something in my sister. On the bus ride to San Diego, older high schoolers kept telling me to wait for Adoration on Saturday night. I thought to myself, “Why would I wait to encounter the Lord? I want to encounter Him now.” So I started to open my heart to Him in a way I never had before. I took the pressure off myself to feel something and I did not put limits on God. That Saturday night, I felt at peace in whatever way I was called to worship Him. The priest carried the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance around the massive auditorium where thousands of teens encountered His goodness. I longed to be near Him. When He came close, it was as though time slowed down and I saw His Face so clearly in the monstrance. I bowed in gratitude for this beautiful grace. After Adoration, a woman approached me as I was walking out. She said she was struck by the way I was worshiping Him and asked me if I ever considered being a nun. Her words were very generous and I took it as a great compliment. I had never considered being a nun because I had never known any. My only “encounter” with religious sisters was the depiction I observed in movies. I saw religious sisters for the first time at that conference in San Diego. I noted their joy and I felt drawn to the beauty of their witness. After the conference, I was more in love with the Lord and His Church.
My first college acceptance came from a school down in Southwest, Florida and I had absolutely no intention of attending. Yet, everything was working out with this school and it had everything I was praying for. I arrived at Ave Maria University in the heat of August having never visited and not knowing a single person. I was overwhelmed with the availability of the sacraments and the amount of young Catholics. It was an answered prayer that continues to unveil itself. One of the things that attracted my heart to Ave was the Mother Teresa Project. It is dedicated to providing opportunities to serve daily and grow closer to Our Lord through the guidance of St. Mother Teresa. During my first semester, I would go to a neighboring town every week to mentor little kids. It was such a gift to take in whatever they wanted to share and experience their joy. It was there that I met one of my dear friends, Jacinta. She was running the
program and was known for her love of Mother Teresa (and of course, the Lord). I was drawn to her witness and we quickly became friends. Right before everything shut down in March 2020, I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. We stayed with the Missionaries of Charity and helped with their ministry of the elderly, who were abandoned by their families. I felt severely under qualified because I knew very little Spanish. I asked the Lord to show me how He could love through me, even without words. It was a blessed week full of beautiful lessons. The less I thought of myself, the greater the joy I experienced. One day, I was applying lotion to an older man’s legs and I felt his gaze so I looked up to meet his eyes. They were filled with deep love and he smiled. At that moment, I realized that service is a mutual giving and receiving. I could see Christ in him so clearly and I pray he could see Him in me. He showed me that the heart of service is being Christ to one another. I left that trip with a full heart and a deeper awareness of seeing Him in every person that I encountered.
An interesting theme in my life has been jumping into things and going places I know little about. This was no different when I applied last minute to be a missionary at Catholic Familyland. I had no idea what the job entailed but I heard wonderful things about the ministry. I set off for Ohio after my sophomore year ended. Our schedule and community life was completely centered around prayer. I found it to be a more beautifully intense version of my university. A bunch of young Catholics, from across the country, came together to minister to families. I was placed in the INN, which served high schoolers. I remembered the loneliness I felt in high school and it made me more attune to those who were experiencing something similar. Before each session, I would ask the Lord to show me who needed a warm welcome and a friend to talk to. I would look out into a sea of kids and it almost felt like the one I should talk to had a spotlight over them. It was a graced time and the Lord worked in wonderful ways. So many of the friends I made at CFL have continued to bear fruit in my life. During my summer at CFL, there was a discernment program offered to all the missionaries. I would attend meetings almost every week, where they invited religious communities to talk about their experience. While it began to open my heart to religious life, I was still stubborn in what I thought I wanted for my life.
My junior year began my adventure into the depths of the nursing program. It allowed me to encounter people in a way that I normally would not be able to. I treasure every clinical experience because it gave me a clear depiction of the sufferings of Christ. One day, I encountered an older woman on a postoperative floor. I had been warned before going into her room that she was prone to yell at people and to not take it personally. When I walked in, I saw a woman in great pain calling upon the name of Jesus over and over again. She had to get an IV placed and I offered to hold her hand. She must have said His name hundreds of times that day. I knew the Lord was calling me to pay attention when I learned her name and birthday. We were born on the same day and she shared a name with St. Genevieve of Paris, my Confirmation saint. During my OB rotation, I witnessed 11 births throughout the course of the semester. On my first day, there were two babies in the nursery that had been separated from their mothers due to substance abuse. I was heartbroken that their first experience out of the womb was complete detachment from who they needed the most. I sat in the rocking chair and fed the little baby girl. She fell asleep in my arms and I was overwhelmed with the thought of
how precious her life is. As I held her, Our Lady graciously reminded me of Her role in all of it. She gave me a taste of her thirst for every soul to know Her Son. She replaced my heart with Her own and gave me the eyes of a mother to receive the unique beauty of this little girl. I prayed that Mary would wrap little Rose in her mantle. I experienced the gift of the beginning of life, but also witnessed the end. During my emergency department rotation, there were two cardiac arrest patients brought in one night after the other. As I tried to be physically helpful to the medical staff, all I could do spiritually was pray Hail Mary after Hail Mary for each unique and unrepeatable person that I watched die. Again, I saw the sacredness of life not only in the joyful moments but in the immense sorrow.
Last March, I was grateful to attend another mission trip with the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago. It was the first time I saw my friend, Sister Jacinta, since she had left the previous summer. Her joy was constant and magnified in every act of selflessness. We spent our days praying multiple rosaries, adoring Our Lord, and serving Him in the poorest of the poor. Once again, the Lord showed His face so clearly in all those that I encountered. One day, I went out into the subways with two of the Sisters on a particular mission– to seek those that the Blessed Mother was calling us to. We came across a man named James, who was sitting on a bench with his head down. He was visibly shocked to be acknowledged by someone. James told us he was all alone and was taking the train to keep himself busy. It was one of those moments when Mary replaced my heart with her own. I imagined him as a little boy and–with the heart of Our Lady–I wanted to hold him and remind him of his goodness. After speaking with him, James was now smiling and holding his head high. As he got up to head to the train, he said, “I hope you never forget about me.” It was so clearly a plea from the Lord to remember His thirst for souls. The mission trip also served as a retreat with a particular focus on our relationship with Our Lady. We were led through meditations on the Blessed Mother walking with us in the garden of our souls to Christ Crucified. These meditations led me closer to Mary’s Heart and Her desire to be my Mother.
During the summer, my sister was married on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I was blessed with the opportunity to be her maid of honor. I hoped to give a speech that would reflect the beauty of her and her husband. Much to my surprise, many people approached me after the speech and spoke of how it had touched them. One of our mutual friends, Teresa, asked if I had ever considered being a religious sister. Teresa continued by saying that the way I spoke reminded her of the Sisters of Life, as she had befriended a few in Washington, D.C. I was a little taken aback by what she said. Two years prior, I had been pleading with the Lord to tell me my vocation–you could say I had stripped all the romance out of it. I wanted control and I was sick of waiting. He quickly showed me that was not the way a love story works, so I tried to calm down. In the midst of this battle in my heart, I stumbled upon a video from a SEEK conference. The video was titled, “The Gaze That Beckons: Following Jesus Wholeheartedly” by Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V. Through her talk, I recognized that I was trying to will my own vocation. I decided to open myself up to either vocation and stopped demanding a response. As I witnessed the beautiful Sacrament of Marriage begin for my sister and her husband, I noticed something in my heart that I was not expecting. I could recognize the beauty and natural desire I had for marriage, but I did not feel called to it. I remember during the nuptial Mass saying to the
Lord, “This is incredibly beautiful, but I do not think this is what You are calling me to.” When Teresa mentioned the Sisters of Life, I was not ready to admit to her that I was feeling drawn back into praying for my vocation. One of my friends mentioned a quote from St. Josemaría Escrivá that states, “You give me the impression that you are carrying your heart in your hands, as if you were offering goods for sale. Who wants it? If it doesn’t appeal to anyone, you’ll decide to give it to God. Do you think that’s how the saints acted?” I was pierced by this quote and kept bringing it to prayer. I had been wandering around and searching for fulfillment in things–even beautiful things–that never could satisfy my longing for Him. The Lord was asking me to let go once again and open my heart to Him. As the summer ended, a group of my friends and I drove up to Dallas to explore the city before my flight that evening. My flight continued to get delayed so I canceled and rebooked it for the following morning. A friend let me stay at their house. The next day, we arrived at the airport in a panic and realized that I would not make my flight.
On August 7th, I rebooked my flight for the third time and headed to Mass at St. Mary the Virgin. In the midst of the sudden changes in my plans, I felt overwhelmingly at peace. The theme of all the Mass readings and the homily was trust and faith in what the Lord can do. Every word resonated deeply in my heart, especially the verse, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). I realized that discernment was not done by thinking and over-analyzing, but by a reception of His will. It was a clear pursuit that I received and responded to with joy. My heart had been pierced by His love. I went home with many questions stirring in my heart. I felt a particular attraction and pull towards the Sisters of Life, which struck me because I had never met any before. I took in all the beauty and praised the Lord for His goodness. With this overwhelming joy, I thought it would be best to meet with a spiritual director to sort through all that had happened. When I came back to Ave, I met with a Dominican priest, Fr. Cessario, on my campus. He told me that there seemed to be authentic graces and encouraged me to act. I filled out an inquiry form on the website and awaited a reply. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my words in my first phone call with Sr. Maria Regina, that I may not try to prove anything, but just share what the Lord was doing in my heart. It was one of the most peaceful conversations I have ever had.
In December, I traveled up to New York for my extended stay. I went in with an open heart and was ready to listen to what He desired for me. I knew that I was tired of grasping after what I wanted. As I was met with such joy and hospitality, it was easy to feel at home. I felt free to be totally myself. I could not describe it, but right when I walked into St. Frances de Chantal convent, I knew that this is where I was meant to be. There was a distinct difference between the way I admired the Missionaries of Charity and the way I desired to be a Sister of Life. I witnessed the uniqueness and the unity among all the Sisters of Life. I kept asking the Lord to purify my desires and give me the courage to respond to Him. The silence opened my heart to Him and He was ready to speak. I started to see more clearly how Our Lady had been working in my life and in my heart. From going to a school named after her to having pivotal experiences in parishes named after her to my sister’s wedding on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and countless other moments. Most notably, I saw how Our Lady of Guadalupe was revealing my desires for spiritual maternity and for it to be modeled after Her. A discussion of the language of the maternal heart pierced me to the depths of my heart. Not only were the days
filled with joy and peace but there was an overflowing of grace. The beauty of the Sisters of Life was piercing my heart. There were countless experiences of the Lord showing me that His pursuit is perfect and unique to my heart.
As I left my extended stay, I was reminded to be present to what Christ had right before me. He supplied the grace for me to remain focused in my studies and attentive to my friendships and family. In the following months, there continued to be sustained peace, joy, and clarity. I prayed for the wisdom and clarity to ask for an application to the community. On my second visit, I was reminded to leave my heart open to be pierced. I continue to praise the Lord for giving me such beautiful gifts to offer back to Him. On March 11th, I asked for an application to the Sisters of Life. At Mass that morning, the homily was all about our freedom to choose Him and how He reverences our hearts. I distinctly remember the priest talking about the Samaritan woman and saying, “Jesus wants to marry you.” I am continually humbled by the choice He has allowed me to make in applying to the Sisters of Life. Even in my doubt, He overshadows me with His peace and joy. I am relying whole-heartedly on His will for me.