Emma

My story is one of God’s gentleness and His extravagance. I was born into a loving family, the second of two daughters. Though I was raised Catholic and always had a vague notion that God existed and that He loved me, I did not have a personal relationship with Him growing up.

 

When I began college, I had no intention of getting involved in the Catholic group on campus, yet as the months progressed, I was more and more curious about the Newman Center I kept hearing about. The first week of my second semester freshman year, I finally worked up the courage to attend an event there. As I walked into a room full of strangers, I felt this profound and overwhelming sense of being home, in a place where I belonged. I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who possessed a joy and a warmth that I’d never seen in anyone else. From then on, I threw myself into that community, spending as much time as I could at the Newman Center. 

Though it was first the people that drew me there, I soon found the reason for my new friends’ joy: a deep, intimate, life-giving relationship with Jesus. As I encountered Him in the Eucharist, I truly began to fall in love with Him. It wasn’t long until the possibility of religious life arose in my heart, and though I was very resistant at first, the Lord gently wore down my opposition until I came to strongly desire to be His bride. Though my first hope after graduating was to become a missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), I assumed it was only a matter of time after missionary life until I entered a convent.

A year into my time with FOCUS, I went on a silent retreat during which I felt the Lord re-present to me a desire for marriage and motherhood, having purified many of my original selfish and idealized expectations. So, I put the thought of religious life out of my mind, and waited for God to send me my future husband, living a very happy and fulfilled life in the meantime.

After five years with FOCUS, I took a corporate job and very quickly became miserable in a world driven by money and success. It was also at this time that my spiritual director gently suggested that I consider being open to religious life again. To top it off, my roommate and close friend was seriously discerning a religious call, and I watched her journey unfold each day with great delight. It wasn’t long before I felt a stirring in my heart: Could I be called, too? Having read Mother Clare’s Discerning Religious Life, I committed to six months of increased prayer and openness to this new possibility.

Soon after, my family and I took a trip to Italy. It was at Assisi that I felt my desire for religious life deepen, particularly my desire to live a life like St. Francis. On September 29, 2018, I arrived at the airport in Rome, only to find that Mother Clare herself was on my flight. It was as if God swung open the door and illuminated my path with flashing arrows from heaven. I visited for a Come and See as soon as I could and felt right away a deep sense of being home, profoundly drawn by our community’s love for Jesus in the Eucharist and the joyful family spirit we share. Thanks to God’s great gentleness and extravagance, I entered the CFRs on September 29, 2019, filled with joy and gratitude for His marvelous plan.

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