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Hailey

I up grew in Florida practicing the faith and going to Mass on Sundays with my family. My parents had me playing sports from a young age, and I quickly became a very competitive softball player with the goal of playing Division I softball in college. This goal took up much of my time and attention.  I began to question whether it was worth taking up time, which could be devoted to softball training, to practice my faith. By the grace of God, I did decide to attend high school youth group at my parish.  I ended up loving it so much that I became very active. 

Youth group helped me foster a deep love for our Lord and His Church, and I slowly began desiring to serve the Lord in some way with my life. Though having met sisters at a few summer camps during high school and experiencing glimmers of a call to religious life at times, these experiences were quickly dismissed in order to pursue the plans I had for my life:  playing Division I softball and getting into a top academic college.  Still, the Lord, in His mercy, used these very means to continue to pursue my heart.

I was recruited to play softball for West Point, and it was there at the Academy that I began to really immerse myself in the Sacraments of the Church.  Along with my friends, I began to go to daily Mass and monthly confession, praying a daily rosary and going to weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Through this deepening prayer life and encountering a sister at the Academy, I experienced a call to religious life.  I had come to West Point desiring to lay down my life in service of others as an officer in the US Army, but suddenly I felt the Lord using this desire to reveal a deeper call—a call to lay down my life in service of Him and His Church, with the radical, undivided heart of a religious sister. When receiving this initial call, I remember feeling my heart longing, desiring to love our Lord with this totality.  But at the same time I felt frustrated and perplexed because I had just gotten to West Point and begun doing everything I had worked so hard for.  I was very honest with the Lord about this and spent the next year simply growing in my relationship with the Lord and being fully present to where He had me—as a student, a cadet, and an athlete. This time allowed my relationship with the Lord to become more personal. It gave me a greater capacity to trust Him and to follow Him wherever He would lead me. The following year, during a time of Eucharistic Adoration, I felt the Lord again, gently and with great love, invite me to pray about becoming a sister. Though I still didn’t know a lot about the life, this time, because of my deeper relationship with Him fostered in prayer, my heart responded with great joy, peace, gratitude, and excitement!

 

I met the CFR Sisters that year, as well, and began volunteering at their soup kitchen on the weekends. When I was at the convent serving with the sisters and serving the poor, I experienced a deep, deep joy that I had never known before.  It felt as though God was revealing me to myself—as if I was discovering the truest part of my heart that had always been there but which I hadn’t yet known.  As I continued to spend time with the sisters, a true joy and deep peace grew and grew until everything else paled in comparison—even playing Division I softball, which had been my dream since I was little! God was drawing me.  I discerned to leave the Academy at this time.  I became a LAMP Missionary, serving the poor in the Bronx, in order to really pray and discern where and how the Lord was calling me to love and serve Him.  I had the gift of going on a few Come and See visits with our sisters, and I remember leaving those visits in awe, feeling that the Lord had created a community just for me.  I saw so much of my own heart reflected in the Sisters’ way of life. That spring, I began praying with a Church document on the vows. As I did this, the same experience of deep joy bubbled and overflowed in my heart.  Though I didn’t know much about the vows, the response I remember welling up from within me was, “This is how God made me to love!”  With that clarity, I was able enter that fall with great joy and gratitude to God.

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