I’m originally from Winnipeg, Canada, and am the middle child of seven kids. I grew up Catholic with a fairly basic and limited understanding of the faith and the Church’s teaching: God loves me, do this and don’t do that, and go to Mass on Sundays. In high school, I went to youth group, worked at a Catholic summer camp, danced four days a week and worked at a coffee shop – all things I really loved doing. However, I had pretty well compartmentalized my life and was quite convinced that I could be both Catholic and live a “normal” life. I knew a lot of the dos and don’ts, but I didn’t understand, or know, the Person behind all of it.
At the age of 18 I went backpacking through New Zealand, living solely for myself. During that time I began to ache for something deeper than the instant gratifications the world had to offer. Within the first couple months of being there, a friend told me she was applying to be a missionary with “Christ in the City,” a Catholic formation program in Denver, Colorado, that serves the homeless. By the grace of God, I decided to also apply, thinking that serving the homeless would fill this ache. I was accepted and moved to Denver in August of 2016, and I served there for two years. A part of the schedule was daily Mass and silent prayer every morning. It was during this time that I began to encounter the One behind what I perceived as the Catholic list of do’s and don’ts: I encountered my good and loving Father. It was through this life of daily prayer and being in relationship with the poor that I experienced my own spiritual poverty: what I saw externally in the poor was simply just a reflection of what my own heart looked like. This realization called me to live with a more child-like dependence on the Father.
The winter after finishing with “Christ in the City,” I met one of the CFR friars while on a trip to New York. Although the thought of a call to religious life never crossed my mind, this small glimpse of the CFR life of poverty piqued my interest enough to call the sisters to see if I could visit. I hoped I could get to know them a bit and also check off the imaginary box in my head that said, “I discerned religious life and it’s not for me.” During the short two-day visit in the summer of 2019 desires for this way of life kept popping up in my heart, and I just kept trying to push them down. It was like one of those arcade games where a button lights up and as soon as you hit it another button lights up. For the better part of the next three years, I tried to understand (and struggled to believe) that these desires were desires for a life consecrated to Jesus and not just desires that every other person has. Through the Lord’s gentleness, He only continued to illumine and strengthen these desires. Nothing in me felt like I was holy or strong or worthy enough for religious life, and the reality is I’m not. It wasn’t until I was on a silent retreat that the Lord reminded me that my vocation and my life is simply just a response to His overabundant love. As I make that response, He will use my poverty to be His instrument – I only have to give it to Him. It was this reminder that gave me the grace to respond to the Lord’s invitation to apply to enter the CFR sisters, and what a humbling gift to receive. I entered with great peace and joy on September 12, 2022.