As a child, religious life was not on my radar screen…
The Lebanese culture which I was raised in women were expected to marry and have several children. It was assumed, by me especially, that I would carry on that tradition. Hoping, actually, to rival the 12 children my parents had.
I attended college at a public university only 45 minutes from my hometown and was actively involved at its Newman Center. It was there that I grew in the faith in ways I had never experienced before. During this time I came to recognize that throughout America religious communities were flourishing with young vocations.
I remember one day reading an article about a religious community that had so many vocations that they literally had no place to put everyone. This “vocations crisis” necessitated that they begin a multimillion dollar capital campaign in order to almost triple the size of their motherhouse. I remembered being astounded that even today young women were still entering religious communities – Not that I would ever join one.
After college I began working as a campus minister at a college within my home diocese. While there I was given the tremendous privilege to live in the Newman Center (a large house located across the street from campus). I vividly remember my first night praying in the chapel and acknowledging the outrageously remarkable grace that it was to be able to live with the Blessed Sac ramen t. It occurred to me that never again would I have the opportunity to live with our Eucharistic Lord, and I would not allow myself to take Him for granted. Though, I will admit that a fleeting thought did cross my mind that the opportunity would present itself again if I were to enter a convent, but since that would never happen I would appreciate my time now.
As a campus minister I was compelled by the Lord to begin taking young women on “nun runs” to various religious comm unities. I was convicted that they needed to be exposed to religious life. I would be doing them a great service by allowing them to interact with consecrated religious sisters.
During my time at this Newman Center, a student began seriously discerning with the Dominican Sisters in Nashville. Although I didn’t recognize it then, between spending time in religious houses and journeying with this student during her discernment, the Eternal Bridegroom was using those encounters to draw me closer to Himself and transforming my heart as well. Not to mention that while living with the Lamb of God, His Heart was most definitely beating within the depths of mine drawing me deeper into His Divine Love.
After two years, I was asked to relocate to a Newman Center in Peoria, IL (my hometown) and assist in the Office of Divine Worship. Since I love both campus ministry and the liturgy I figured nothing could get better in my life. In addition, I was back in Peoria, which I never had much of a desire to leave anyway. After a few months, though, I recognized that the Lord, in fact, was desiring more of me. It wasn’t long before I acknowledged that this more He wanted was my whole self, consecrated as His bride.
After encouragement from my spiritual director and religious from other communities, I finally contacted the Sisters of Life. My heart was already drawn to this charism of life and love and after visiting I knew that the Sisters of Life would be closely connected with our Lord’s plan for my life. Less than five months later, just before the close of the Year of the Eucharist, I entered as a postulant.