Called to be a Priest or Sister?
Even at a young age I have always had a strong love for my Catholic faith, but the possibility of the consecrated life as my calling never entered into my mind. I always knew I wanted to become a teacher, and that was all I had ever thought about since my childhood. It was not until I was in my twenties that I even considered a calling to the consecrated life as a religious sister.
At the age of seven one day after mass one of our parish priest’s took me aside and explained to me the different sacred vessels, the altar, and the Tabernacle, and it was that day that I had my first real experience of the truth of our Catholic faith. For the first time in my life I found myself understanding the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and even at that age I understood that there existed something much greater than myself. Then when I was fourteen years old after viewing the “Passion of the Christ” with our parish youth group I found myself feeling that I had to write a poem about the love of Christ. I remember someone coming up to me and telling me how special my relationship with Jesus must be for me to write such a poem, and when the priest leading our teen group thanked me for allowing him to carry around a copy of it I shrugged off any deeper meaning of it. I loved as a teenager being able to volunteer at the local food pantry that was run by a community of religious sisters, but I never came across any sisters because whenever I had to contact the sister who was in charge of the food pantry I had my mother reach out to her because I could not bring myself to talk with or meet a nun.
Once I moved forward on the track to become a teacher I felt I had answered my calling in life until I began to feel that something was missing, the feeling that there must be something deeper in life, I wanted to become closer to Christ. I was afraid to reach out to religious orders. I feared what my parents would think and so in my early twenties when I was in my last year of undergraduate school I brushed off the idea of religious life and halted researching communities despite me confiding in one of my friends one night that a seminarian friend of ours had inspired me to consider becoming a nun.
I remember his passion for his vocation to the priesthood and it was the first time I thought to myself, "What if God is calling me to become a Sister"?
After several years of teaching in high school there was a moment for me kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament after mass one Sunday when I realized that I was finally ready to be open to what God had planned for me not what I had planned for myself. I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me and through the intercession of The Little Flower and the Blessed Mother I came to accept and found such a deep sense of peace in having a call to religious life.
Young women and young men who feel called to the priesthood or to religious life want to have God at the center of their lives, and they yearn to be able to live out the values of the Gospel and the message of our faith in a truly authentic and counter-cultural way as a priest or religious sister. They want to one day share the beauty of the priesthood or religious life with others so that they can pass down these precious fruits to future generations of men and women who may be called to the priesthood or to the consecrated life. For millennial men and women to pass on these fruits they need to be first nourished spiritually before they can even consider a calling to become a priest or a nun. It is difficult for young men and women to consider the priesthood or religious life because many times they do not have the support from family or perhaps even their friends. I wish someone would have come up to me when I was younger and said, "Hey, have you ever thought about becoming a Sister"? There is no harm in asking, and I know speaking personally I would not have been offended by such a question. It is so important especially in our culture today that we try do create as much as we can as Catholics an environment where young men and young women can be open to considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
As young adults discerning the priesthood or religious life sometimes we are misunderstood and judged as the millennial generation, but His love for us compels us to remain open to the Holy Spirit to do that of His will, and to continue to discern the consecrated life despite what seems like an uphill journey. For Christ to be able to enter into our hearts and minds we have to open the door for him, and now that I have opened the door I still feel humbled that God would invite me to follow Him. I am awaiting the day when I will give my "Yes" to Jesus, and become a Bride of Christ as a living witness in the world in a religious community embracing one another in merciful love.