“God gave me the graces I needed to truly open my heart to His gentle and persistent knock.”
Sr. Mariana, Perpetually Professed. Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, Nashville, Tennessee. MEFV Grant Recipient
Until a few years ago, I was quite sure that I knew God’s vocation plan for me. That all changed, though, when I attended World Youth Day in Toronto. At a very pivotal moment I realized that God’s plan may not be what I expected. The experiences throughout my life no longer seemed as preparation for marriage to a man on Earth, but rather to Christ. It was not all clear and simple at first, but God gave me the graces I needed to truly open my heart to His gentle and persistent knock.
While I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, I was taught by only a few religious sisters, most of whom wore no habit. In addition to a lack of their presence in my schools, religious vocations were rarely discussed or mentioned. I believe and know that the seed of my vocation was due in large part to the solid formation of my faith at home. For many years, my family has prayed the Rosary together every evening, and adored our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament every Sunday. I will be eternally grateful for my parents’ dedication to teaching and expressing our Catholic Faith.
After I received my bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville to obtain my master’s degree in education. Coming from a secular college, I could not wait to attend a school with students who shared my faith. It was there that I really fell in love with the Church and realized that I needed to be open to any vocation that God had planned for me. In the summer of 2002 I attended World Youth Day in Toronto. I had an incredible experience and realized that God wanted me to seriously discern religious life.
With support from my spiritual director, parents and friends, I visited several religious communities. Although they were all beautiful orders, I felt at home when I was with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee. The Sisters reminded me so much of myself. They were simple, joy-filled women on fire for the Church. Like me, many of them had wonderful lives before entering the convent, but knew that something was missing. During my two years of discernment, I recognized that the missing piece is Christ, and that I will not be truly happy until I can give myself completely to Him.
With my new job as a high school special education teacher, I happily look forward to the day when I can enter the convent of the Nashville Dominicans. I long for more prayer time, and to bring Christ to His children. I know that joy will abound in my heart, a joy that can only come from Christ.
If you asked me ten years ago where I thought I would be in my life now, I never would have said that I would be waiting to enter a convent. It is just another example of how we are not the masterminds behind this short life on earth, but rather that there is a loving God Who will bring us to true joy and peace when we seek Him and His will. I hope and pray that I will soon have that opportunity. Praised be Jesus and Mary, now and forever!