“I knew in that moment that God was calling me to be a Servant of the Lord. ”
Sr. Mary of the Incarnate Word, Perpetually Professed Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara. MEFV Grant Recipient.
My vocation story begins with my call to become Catholic. I grew up in a home absent of religion, except for saying grace before meals. My parents divorced when I was young. My mother was baptized late in life in a Baptist church, and my father is a fallen-away Catholic. I was baptized when I was fifteen in a Protestant church and attended services every Sunday, but when I went to college, I wanted to find something more authentic. I decided to leave Indiana and go to school in Washington, DC, at The George Washington University. I was suddenly surrounded by so many different kinds of people who believed so many things, that I needed to find out what I believed. I had gone to a Catholic high school, so I decided to go to Mass, “just to see.” During that Mass, I made the decision to become Catholic.
While I was becoming acquainted with the Catholic Faith in RCIA classes, I began to feel the calling to leave everything behind and do something radical for God. I saw and advertisement in our Catholic Center bulletin for a “Women’s Discernment Group Activity.” Right away, I knew I had to go, even though I wasn’t sure what it was all about. The Group was going to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to see the Missionaries of Charity take their final vows. It was still well over three months before I would be accepted into the Church, but as I watched the ceremony, I had a feeling that this is what God was calling me to do.
Shortly after entering the Church, I spoke to our chaplain about my vocation, but it wasn’t until the subsequent chaplain at our university invited the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara to lead our Women’s Discernment Group, that I began to seriously consider my vocation. Weekly, the sisters came to give talks about how to grow in our spiritual life, the importance of prayer, and the struggles of college life for Catholic students. I began to visit the sisters and help with a children’s group that met at the convent to play on Saturdays. A critical moment came when I asked if I could spend Thanksgiving my sophomore year with the sisters, since I wasn’t able to go home. Spending the long weekend with them, I was able to get a better sense of their life in common, and I saw how much they enjoyed being with each other. They were so joyful, not gloomy or boring like the typical conception of sisters. It made me want to visit more and spend more time with them praying and getting to know their charism. As I grew in knowledge of the Servants of the Lord, their charism and spirituality, I found that it fit more and more perfectly.
I made the decision to enter while on retreat. I knew in that moment that God was calling me to be a Servant of the Lord. I didn’t know how I was going to explain it to my family, or what I was going to do about college, but I knew that it was God’s will. I spoke with the Provincial Superior and the rest is history. I never thought my whole life that God would call me to be a sister, but it shows that “God chooses the weak to confound the strong.”
I had many obstacles to my vocation, one of them was the situation with my college loans. My family comes from a very modest background, and was not willing or able to take on my loans. I continue to rely on Divine Providence and the intercession of St. Joseph to provide money for the debt.