I was born and raised Catholic in Southern New Jersey. Although I was raised Catholic, my family did not practice the faith very much. My mom took my sister, brother and I to Mass every Sunday, and I altar served for a few years, but that was the extent of my faith and prayer life. Growing up, I was never exposed to religious life, and I was 17 years old when I met a religious sister for the first time. Right away she told me that I had a religious vocation, but I didn’t want to hear about the idea of religious life. I was determined to find my spouse.
I graduated from Rowan University in 2016 with a degree in Liberal Studies and Elementary Education. After graduating, I
taught middle school (6th-8th grade) Religion at St. John Paul II Regional School in New Jersey. While I was in college, I began thinking about what I should do with my life, but I never asked God what He wanted. One thing I knew was I wanted to get married, so in the search for my spouse, I began praying rosary after rosary and novena after novena. I read every possible book there was on Catholic dating and marriage. I even wrote letters to my future spouse. I began dating in hopes I would soon find the man I had been so devoutly praying for and preparing to meet. However, I always felt very empty and sad. It felt like something was missing and the thought of religious life often came to my heart; but I would just ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there.
Finally, I met the man of my dreams. It seemed my prayers were being answered and an engagement to be married was in the works. Even though I had found what I thought I had been looking for, I still felt very empty; I had to convince myself I was happy.
At this point, the Lord was trying to get my attention. In the midst of all of the restlessness and emptiness I was feeling in pursuing marriage, the Lord put the thought of religious life back on my heart in a strong way, to the point that I couldn’t ignore Him anymore. Being open to religious life was a gradual process, but when I opened my heart to the Lord in this way, I found the peace and the joy I had been searching for. I finally felt fulfilled; Jesus is the one who wanted to satisfy me all along!
At the same time I started this path of discernment, the CFR Sisters opened a convent in Atlantic City, NJ, which is within my home diocese. I was hesitant at first to go meet the sisters, but once I went, I was hooked. Their immense joy and love for the Lord captivated my heart, an experience which took me by surprise.
I went on my first come and see visit with the community in New York in the summer of 2018. I was captivated by how Eucharistic centered the life is and I was drawn to the prayer life. The moments of communal prayer such as daily Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours and also the time of personal prayer were all of the ways I love praying. The apostolates fit all the desires of my heart, from evangelization to youth ministry and service of the poor. Experiencing serving the poor on my visit led me to fall in love with Christ in a deeper way in them. Being able to give fully of myself for Jesus brought me an immense amount of joy, a real joy I had never felt before. During this visit I felt a strong sense of belonging and very at home: being with the sisters felt like family. After that visit, I knew this was what the Lord was asking of me.
The Lord swept me off of my feet and showed me what my heart really desired after all. In all of my searching and all of my praying for my spouse, it led me to fall in love with Christ.