“I had the wonderful grace of having a strong support system, and friends who encouraged me to do the will of God.”
Sr. Mary of the Incarnation (with Fund for Vocations co-founder Katherine Huber)
Servants of the Lord Santa Clara, California.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I started to take my faith seriously. I grew up in a Catholic family that went to Mass every Sunday and said grace before meals. I received my education from our local parochial grade school and a Catholic girls’ college preparatory high school. When I was fifteen, the Life Teen program came to my parish. Through the enthusiasm of the leaders and the priests who celebrated Mass for us, I experienced a new freedom in admitting that “He must increase and I must decrease,” and found myself wanting to deepen my relationship with Jesus. I also attended two of the Steubenville Youth Conferences which, looking back with hindsight, taught me the importance of leading a sacramental life with the Eucharist being the source of our strength, and gave me the courage to speak out about Catholicism. To say the thought of becoming a sister never crossed my mind would be untrue. I considered it as one of many options I could choose from. Although it was a common joke among my friends and me, I didn’t give the idea of becoming a sister too much thought.
My college years were spent at West Chester University of Pennsylvania studying psychology. Much of my freshman year was spent at the Newman Center, and I found myself involved in many of their activities throughout the week. My first encounter with my religious family took place at the beginning of my sophomore year. Very providentially, I met the sisters at a point when my faith life was very low. Towards the end of my freshman year, I found myself being the only Catholic in the middle of “non-denominational” prayer meetings and bible studies. No one in the group really understood where I was coming from and filled my head with many ideas that didn’t coincide with Catholic beliefs. As a result, my heavy involvement at the Newman Center trickled to only attending Mass on Sunday evenings, and I found myself very confused. One night in October of 1999 the Servants of the Lord came to a Newman Center event. Of the five who came, only one spoke English. The other four, although they spoke very broken English, radiated their enthusiasm and joy through their smiles and attempts to communicate with us. What attracted me initially were their full habits and evident joy that surpassed any language barrier.
This was the time that I found myself seriously trying to run from my vocation. I realized that I was thinking about becoming a sister more often than I wanted to admit to myself. I felt as if I was on the fence, but not ready to fall on one side. I was too afraid to speak to the priest at the Newman Center for fear that he might confirm and encourage my vocation. When I returned to college after Christmas break, under the direction of the priest at the Newman Center, I began to discern that God truly was calling me to religious life. I finally said yes during my junior year at college, and would enter upon graduating the next summer. I had the wonderful grace of having a strong support system, and friends who encouraged me to do the will of God. Although I visited a couple other local religious communities, I was certain that God was calling me to the joy-filled and missionary lifestyle of the Servants of the Lord.