Here is the long-awaited photo!
Two weekends ago Sharon spoke at four of the weekend Masses at her parish sharing with her Church family about her call to cloistered life in our monastery. It’s a bit lengthy but I thought you would appreciate hearing some of her story…
The reason I am speaking to you today has to do with the fact that I am joining a religious community, actually, I will be entering in about a week. I’ve been home for about four weeks now, after having lived with the community for three and a half months, discerning whether God wanted me to enter there. I do believe entering is God’s will for me.
I came to believe that He was calling me to religious life while I was a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. After High School, while following in the footsteps of five of my siblings, I began attending Franciscan University to get a degree in Early Childhood Education. Franciscan had a life-changing impact on my personal relationship with God, which I know was influenced by my family and their faith and the Catholic community at St. Aloysius.
So back to Franciscan, I wish I could tell you about all of my experiences there and the beauty of our Catholic faith that is so present in the priests, students, and faculty, but it would take me a long time. And I only have a few minutes here. But to give you a couple of examples; there is a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament in almost every single building on the campus. And instead of being pressured into parties, drinking, and stuff like that, the community at Franciscan has called me on to greater holiness, through different ways such as attending daily mass, frequent confession, and prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This helped me to look at where I stood in my relationship with Jesus and I realized that He was calling me into a more personal relationship with Him and I began desiring to know Him and love Him more then anything else. At this point, I hadn’t been discerning whether it was possible for Him to be calling me to anything but marriage.
A year and a half ago I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Austria and most of the students take advantage of this wonderful program to study and travel in Europe for four months. I mention this time because this is when God revealed to me that He was calling me to religious life. This was the first time that I put my future in God’s hands instead of just focusing on what I wanted. I truly began desiring what I saw Him asking of me. I confirmed with my spiritual director that God really was calling me to religious life. I was ready to seek out the religious community that was proper to the way of life God was asking me to live. I knew it wasn’t necessary for me to continue pursuing a profession that I may not have been able to use.
The community that I am going to be joining is called the Congregation of the Passion of Christ! They are a cloistered, contemplative community in Whitesville, Kentucky. They were founded by St. Paul of the Cross in Italy during the 18th century. As a Passionist Nun, which is kind of their nickname, I will be devoting my life to learning how to love Christ with an undivided heart. I will be taking five vows, three of which you have probably heard of and are called the evangelical counsels: Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. The other two vows are to promote devotion to, and a grateful remembrance of, the Passion of Christ, and enclosure. The Passionists’ vow to look at everything in light of what Jesus has suffered through His Passion and death on the Cross. There has never been a greater act of love. And by remembering this we can learn to love as Jesus loves. It seems that by meditating on the Passion of Christ everyone would be walking around really sad all the time, however, they are a very joyful and loving community. Their mission in the Church is one of prayer and sacrifice.
I know this is the way God is leading me to heaven and how He is asking me to be a part of and to serve His Church, which is all of you…I really feel called to offer my life to God as a religious. God bless you all and please keep me in your prayers as well. Thank you.