My Vocation Story -- Sr. Mary Michael:
I was in the 8th Grade. Mom had just asked me if I ever thought about being a Sister. "No way!" I thought to myself. There was probably a look of disgust from me as well.
Soon after that, however, the thought kept coming to mind. Seeing Sisters at church would bring it back up. All kinds of things brought it up in my mind. Resolving never to tell a soul that I was even considering it for fear of being made fun of or chasing off my dream husband, it became a secret of mine for many years.
This memory is very vivid: one time I went to Mass and saw the Sisters, which reinforced in my mind that the thought of me being a Sister was ludicrous, and the Responsorial Psalm that day was, "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." It brought a smile to my heart. What a sense of humor God has!
I assumed that this silly thought would eventually go away. After all, I had my life planned out. My goal was to get married, have children, and be a "normal" person. I eventually majored in Occupational Therapy and prayed hard for a good Catholic husband. I was blessed with a full basketball scholarship and lots of friends. The good Catholic husband was showing up. The young men that I was attracted to were not necessary attracted to me. The nice young men that were attracted to me were more like my brothers. My dream wasn't working out the way I thought it would. Now what? Keep praying!
At this point, God began working on my heart. He had actually been working on it for years, but some key things happened here that helped me make drastic changes in my life. God began taking blinders off -- showing me my serious sinfulness in some areas. He began giving me the desire to get rid of those and to make better choices.
Right about this same time, I was challenged in my faith. Some Protestants were telling me (this is the first time to be challenged this way) that I was going to hell because I was Catholic. They told me that I had never really been baptized since I had been baptized as a baby. Wow. They rocked my world. What would happen to me if I died in a car accident? Would I go to heaven? I began reading the Bible. I quit going to parties. There was a tremendous amount of grace being poured into my soul at this time -- I remembered my mother's rosaries that she prayed for me as a teen. "This must be the grace from God from my mother's prayers," I thought to myself. I believed that strongly. It was too powerful. In previous years, when I had tried to change, when I had tried myself to not to be so affected by peer pressure and all that, it never worked. All of a sudden, it was happening.
God came through again -- I had begged Him to help me figure out the truth. Is the Catholic Church the True Church? Is it the One that He had meant for us to live in and be happy in? He answered my prayers. There's no time to go into it here, but through a trip to Europe, and God showing me areas in my life that needed changing, He showed me, not only that the Catholic Church is THE True Church, but that He loves us infinitely! He cares about every detail of our lives! He is truly present in the Holy Eucharist! Mary is our mother and she cares for us, as well!
With this, God's grace began opening my heart to the possibility of a religious vocation. I continued to pray for a good Catholic husband. I even continued looking for one! However, as I was trying to go that direction, the feeling inside that I was being called to be a Sister grew stronger. I met some Sisters that were young and fun, and God used that to open my heart even more -- the misconceptions of Sisters having boring lives began to crumble before my eyes.
By this time, I was working as a youth director. Having a blast at that, and dating at the same time, God was gently nudging my heart toward Himself. My boyfriend began talking about marriage. "Is this the way I should go?" I thought to myself. I could get married and no one would know that I was supposed to be a Sister.... I tried to look into my future as a married person. My boyfriend was wonderful -- he was a dream to me. But there was something holding me back.
One day when I was thinking about this, I felt like God was saying to me, "See, you have found a good Catholic man. I am still calling you to myself. I am calling you to marry me." Wow! I heard it. I accepted it. Peace came over me. I knew it was right.
At this point, I was totally at peace, especially since I assumed that it would be ten years before the right convent was revealed to me. I had plenty more time to prepare myself for that day that I imagined would be so hard (the day to "enter" a convent). I began visiting convents, hoping to learn more about what happens in a Sisters' day. God took me completely by surprise -- in one of my visits, that I just thought was routine, God showed me a lot of things. Let's just say, by the end of the visit, I didn't want to leave. I knew that this was where God wanted me to be.
Someone told me recently, "God reveals as He conceals." This sums it up. I didn't know what would happen in the future, but I knew that that was where God wanted me then. I've been there now for 17 years! Wow. And I have never regretted it. I have never thought that it was a mistake.
When God calls us to something, He has a special purpose in mind. We cannot always see it right away -- we will probably never see all of it until we get to heaven. We take one day at a time, receiving His Love every day and allowing our Beloved to use us for the Glory of His Kingdom! My love relationship has grown over the years to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Bride of Christ. It is a very beautiful calling!