God calls each of us to a particular vocation and mission in life. Yet it is not always easy to discover one’s specific vocation or to discern where that call might be best lived out. At times it may seem that “God writes straight with crooked lines.” Yet God indeed uses every detail in our story as He gradually reveals the specifics of our calling. It is only prayerful reflection that allows us to “connect the dots” to see the bigger picture. Below is a sampling of vocation stories that manifest the astounding ways in which God’s grace works. Links are provided so you can read the full account of these remarkable testimonies.
You Cannot Serve Both God and Mammon
Immigrating to Canada from Jamaica, Sr. Veronica Mary attended Catholic schools from elementary through to high school. At the age of 7 she was confirmed and received her first Holy Communion but this would be the last time she would go to church until her late teens. After attending a Challenge retreat in college she soon became involved in many youth-related church activities. It was during this time that she began to discern a religious vocation. After investigating a number of active communities she felt frustrated and began a secular career. Yet God was indeed calling and over time she came to discover her vocation as an extern sister with the Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary in Buffalo, New York. Read more about Sr. Veronica Mary of the Transfiguration.
Entering the Palace of the Great King—Debt Free!
Before entering the Poor Clares of the Primitive Observance in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, the one thing holding Sr. Mary Christiana Coleman, O.S.C., back from fulfilling her contemplative vocation was educational debt. It is more truthful to say that her life was quite confused, yet the speed with which her financial needs were met helped her to see the working of Divine Providence. With the help of the The Labouré Society, she was able to pay off her student loans and enter the palace of the Great King at St. Clare’s Monastery! Read more about Sr. Maria Christiana.
Yesterday A Therapist And Marathon Runner, Today A Poor Clare Contemplative
Before entering the convent, Sr. Marie Elizabeth, O.S.C., was a lapsed Catholic, a practicing hand therapist, and a marathon runner obsessed with exercising and watching her food intake. It was not until a fellow volunteer on a medical mission trip confronted her that she realized something had to change. After seeking counseling, enrolling in a summer class entitled “Getting to Know Your Catholic Faith,” and making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, she was one day asked by a priest whether she might be called to give herself to God in religious life. Read more about Sr. Marie Elizabeth.
An Early Vocation That Took Years To Become Clear
Though Sr. Mary Catharine of Jesus, O.P., knew from the age of five that God wanted her to be a sister, it was much longer before she knew where and how. She entered the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary just out of high school, but somehow it did not seem right and she had to make the hardest decision of her life—whether to stay or to leave the community. In the end, she decided to leave, and to her surprise, the cloistered life turned out to be the thing that could fulfill her. Read more about Sr. Mary Catharine of Jesus. Read more about Sr. Mary Catharine.
“I came, I saw and I stayed.”
In college, Br. Bernard Ner Suguitan, O.Ss.S., underwent a spiritual crisis which led him to consider leaving the Catholic Church to become a fundamentalist. Before leaving, however, he thought it would be good to learn what the Church stood for, and before he knew it, he was lost in the folds of the Church’s rich history, teachings, and writings. After trying a vocation in an active community, he realized that instead, all signs seemed to point him toward the Briggitines, and before he knew it, he had found the right fit. Read more about Brother Bernard.
A Love Of Travel And Adventure Could Not Keep This Sister Out Of The Cloister
Early in her freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Sr. Mary Rebecca, SSpSAP, fell in love with her faith by attending Mass at the university’s Newman Center. Two years later, she began to open up her heart to the possibility of religious life, but a semester abroad temporarily distracted her with the many sights, sounds, and adventures of traveling. The summer after graduation, she was traveling once more in Costa Rica, when she heard in her heart, “This will never satisfy you.” Only then did she make her way to the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters. Read more about Sr. Mary Rebecca.
A Miraculous Medal And A Secular Novel Worked Together To Point This Nun Toward The Enclosure
One of Sr. Veronica’s earliest memories of devotion was when she inherited a Miraculous Medal from her great-grandmother. She later read a novel with a nun as a character, and her ensuing research on the religious life convinced her that she wanted to give the total gift of self as well. The writings of Carmelite mystics then drew her to visit Carmelite communities, and at last she found herself at home with the Carmelite Nuns of the Ancient Observance in North Dakota. Read more about Sr. Veronica.
“I…could not see myself being anywhere else.”
Monk Sergius of the Holy Transfiguration Skete remembers from his youth how he always seemed to feel better after attending Mass, and how his father witnessed to him through conversations, blessings with holy water, and a great enthusiasm for worship. In high school, he felt a draw toward the religious life, and shortly before leaving for a mission trip to Mexico, he felt a sudden unrest that only went away when he decided not to attend. During the time when he would have been on the trip was when he saw a short video about the Holy Transfiguration Skete on EWTN. Read more about Monk Sergius.
A Variety Of Small Experiences Drew This Former Baptist To Carmel
Sr. Marie of the Incarnation, O.C.D., grew up working hard on a farm and attending a Baptist church with her large family. After high school, she attended St. Vincent’s Nursing School in Birmingham, Alabama, where she was first exposed to the Catholic Church through daily Mass, special Christmas celebrations, and an annual May Marian procession. She later went abroad with the Army Nursing Corps, but upon returning home, she attended a friend’s entrance into Carmel, where a priest asked her, “What about you?” Read more about Sr. Marie.
Even Our Mistakes Can’t Hinder God!
The summer after her freshman year at Thomas Aquinas College, Sr. Juliana Schmitt, O. Cist., was reading a book called Why I Entered the Convent, when the thought occurred to her that maybe she was called to the contemplative life. She discovered a beautiful monastery far from home where she could hide herself and be dedicated to God forever, and she soon entered. However, after an entire postulancy and novitiate, she realized that she was not at home there, and left to begin her vocational discernment afresh. She visited several houses, but when the Cistercian nuns from the Valley of Our Lady Monastery returned one of her letters, her happiness was impossible not to notice. Read more about Sr. Juliana.
A Vocation Of Healing And Praying For “our wounded and wonderful Church”
Mother Miriam Leonard, O.P., believed that she would help the sick, the injured, the poor, and the suffering by becoming a nurse, and so she did for some time. Nursing, especially caring for the elderly and terminally ill, was a maturing experience for her, but on Palm Sunday of 1948, she revealed to her confessor that she believed she had a contemplative religious vocation. She thus entered the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary, and though there were times of difficulty, she ultimately fulfilled her vocation to heal in ways that not even she could have expected. Read more about Mother Miriam.
The Great Pursuit
From childhood, Sr. Emmanuel Mohl, O.S.B., felt a connection to the Child Jesus that she annually placed in the manger. Yet over the course of her high school and college years, she lost sight of the Personhood of that little baby, drifting in search of the answers to life’s big questions. One evening, while she was working at Disney World, she awoke abruptly and turned on the TV to hear Mother Angelica say, “heaven rejoices more over the conversion of one sinner than of all the just.” Not long afterward, she attended a Latin Mass, where she discovered in the liturgy the answer to her heart’s desire, as well as the seed of her Benedictine vocation. Read more about Sr. Emmanuel.