God is so good, so patient yet generous with us. I have found this more and more as I journey on this walk in faith. Allow me to share with you a bit of my faith journey thus far.
I have grown up in Winnipeg, MB, I suppose you could call me a ‘cradle catholic’. I grew up attending church weekly as well as actively participating in Sunday school catechism and the Sacraments. Growing up, I would say that I enjoyed my Catholic faith and knew that it was important, but yet I am not sure that I had truly experienced a personal encounter with the Lord, sometimes faith was more of a routine.
I am thankful to God that I never fell away from the faith, although I did have some dark valleys to walk through. It is actually through these difficult moments that I was able to see God shine more brightly in my life. One time in particular was during my high school years. My friends weren’t very open to discussing matters of faith, and it was difficult to really know what beliefs others practiced, or who I could connect with about my faith in God. I felt alone at times in this way. In the midst of this struggle, I had to start leaning on God in a very real way to get me through this valley. I began to see how God loves me in a very personal way. Sometimes I would be struggling with something and I would open my Bible, my eyes falling on the exact words I needed to hear. God was listening and speaking to me. I also started going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament regularly, we are so blessed to have a church in Winnipeg that has perpetual adoration, so I could go visit Jesus anytime I needed.
During high school, my Mom and I also started to pray that God would bless me with some good Catholic friends. God answered this prayer tenfold once I was out of High School. I began to connect with one of my cousin’s who was also very involved in her Catholic faith. She introduced me to a youth prayer meeting at our Archdiocese, called ‘Emmaus’. Suddenly, I was surrounded by like-minded people who cared about each other and about living an authentic life in Christ. I have made many beautiful friendships through this faith-community. They have helped to grow me into a more confident person and brought out leadership qualities in me that I had not yet used.
I believe I was gradually led to discern my vocation when I began to feel somewhat restless in the summer of 2014. I had been working as a nurse, which was fine, but I knew I had not yet found my spiritual vocation. There was still something very important missing. I continued working as a nurse, but still feeling a void. I started to wonder if maybe God was calling me to consecrated life, since He hadn’t opened the door to marriage. I began to contemplate this, something that was a big deal, since I will admit, I had always ran away from the idea of consecrated life, thinking, ‘that is not for me!’. I began to sense God asking me to give Him everything, and that it would become clear in time what this meant. One day in the summer of 2015, I was hanging out with three friends when we came along the topic of vocations. One of them mentioned that she was thinking about consecrated life. Myself and another friend agreed that we too were considering it. I was so shocked at this moment because I hadn’t realized that they too were thinking about consecrated Life! One of the girls and myself ended up going to a ‘Come and See’ visit in the Fall of 2015 with the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate. I was surprised how much I enjoyed staying with the sisters, and I saw the work they did as being very meaningful. They were joyful and funny. They had a joie de vivre that many people don’t have. After this ‘Come and See’, I returned home while my friend continued on to visit more religious orders. I decided in early 2016 that I needed to look into Religious Life more seriously and I figured by seeing a handful of different communities, I would have a good idea if this still interested me. I connected with my friend and we agreed to do a ‘Nun run’ together, as we called it. In May 2016, we visited two communities in Ottawa, one of them being the Servants of the Cross, then three communities in New York and one in Toronto.
I came home and reflected on the whole month-long experience. I felt attracted to the Servants of the Cross because they were Charismatic. I have really grown to love our Charismatic community in Winnipeg, one of our ministries being, ‘Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services’ or ‘ CCRS’. I have seen a lot of people be healed through this type of prayer (myself included) and a renewal of the spirit. I was also drawn to the fact that the Servants of the Cross make evangelization their mission. I have always wanted to be able to share Jesus in an authentic way with those I meet. I feel that sharing the faith is one of the necessities of the Church faithful, but one that we are struggling in right now, especially in terms of sharing our witness with non-believers or fallen away Catholics. I want to grow in my ability to evangelize and I think the Servants will be able to form me well in this regard. I have also appreciated how the sisters belonging to the Servants of the Cross community are very real. They are honest and very loving, easy to talk with.
Along the way of my discernment, I have learnt that if this is to be my vocation, it is not dependent on what I want, it has to come from the Lord. The most life-giving yet difficult decision I have had to make is to constantly remind myself, ‘Lord, not my will, but Your will be done.’ It is a constant decision to surrender my desires and my vocation into the Lord’s hands knowing that He works all things for good. Jesus, I trust in You.