Growing up in Maryland, I loved to spend my summers at the beach and my winters skiing in the mountains. During the school year, I spent my time in sports practices, learning the piano and harp, and (of course!) going to the mall with my friends. God didn’t have much of a place in my life, and if you had asked me at that time who Jesus was, I don’t think I would have been able to give you a clear answer. A religious vocation certainly was not on my mind. I had a heart full of ambition to save the world from every form of suffering, and my misunderstandings of God made me feel that I was often working against Him and at times didn’t even believe that God existed.
When I was 16 I had an encounter God that changed everything. On a youth retreat at my parish, Jesus in the Eucharist spoke to my heart: “I am the truth that you are looking for.” In that moment, the Holy Spirit touched my mind and my heart with grace. God gave me infused faith to believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, that He died for me and rose from the dead so that I could live. I knew everything in my life had to change. If God was real, I wanted to give my whole self to Him for His service.
I wanted to learn how to be authentically Catholic in everything, to learn how to pray and read the Bible, to have a personal relationship with God. I chose to study Theology and Catechetics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where I was immersed in a Catholic culture in every aspect of my life. There, my faith flourished, and when I was 20 years old I began asking God what He would have me do with my life. I was seeking to know my vocation and respond to it generously.
“If you would be perfect, go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow me.” (Mt 19)
These words that Jesus spoke to the “rich young man” 2,000 years ago echoed in my soul as I searched for God’s plan for my life. Through daily prayer, discernment with a spiritual director, and visiting various communities, I knew beyond doubt that Jesus was calling me to come and follow Him. But, just as the rich young man in the Gospel “went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions,” I too hesitated to respond to Jesus’ call. I, too, was clinging to my many possessions as a fleeting source of fulfillment. Could God really make me as happy as my designer jeans, my best friends, and the perfect image of popularity I had created for myself?
As I meditated on the “Rich Young Man,” I felt sadness at that man’s response to Jesus. How could he walk away from the call of His Savior, His Creator? And what sadness I would feel if I chose my possessions over my Lord! Although we do not know what happened to the rich young man, I am thankful that God gave me the grace to learn from him, and to respond to Jesus’ call with generosity.
After graduation in 2012 I “sold all that I had” and decided to follow Jesus. I entered my community after my graduation, and have great joy and fulfillment in living as a Bride of Christ!