In visiting the CFR sisters, I met the living expression of my innermost joy and love, a place that seemed to be designed for my heart in every detail. Especially the life of prayer, centered on the Eucharist, was exactly what I was looking for and everything about it felt so natural to me. In spending time with the sisters my heart was filled with a deep joy. It was as if Jesus showed me a family and a home that He Himself prepared for me. I was finally at peace. With God's grace and the intercession of Our Lady, I entered on September 30, 2018.
I was moved by their beautiful prayer life and enjoyed learning more about the CFR charism. The thing that stood out to me the most was the Sisters’ care about the details in serving others. They did everything with great love, ensuring that they maintained the dignity and respect for every person they worked with. I visited the community twice before I applied, and on both occasions felt that this is where God was calling me. I felt I had found my home. By God’s grace, I finally entered on September, 29th 2019.
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.
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.
Here in this community I found a place where I could be authentically myself while radically living out the Gospel – I felt at home. The day I submitted the application, I had a phone call with the vocations directress and she said, “Now Natalie, I don’t know if I’ve told you the entrance date for this year, but it’s September 29th.” After hearing that detail I was in shock, as it was the same date Our Lady told me! It was a pure gift of reassurance, and I was moved to a deeper trust that my vocation is all in the Lord’s hands. The more I surrender to His Will for my life, the freer I will become. Life with Christ truly is a joyful adventure!
I learned of the CFRs from a few friends, and felt compelled to visit the sisters after noticing a webpage for the Fr. Solanus Soup Kitchen the sisters run in East Harlem. When I arrived, I felt the desires of my heart for joy, simplicity, and a ministry of presence completely satisfied. I witnessed beauty beyond what I had desired in the sisters’ love for and attentiveness to one another. I saw clearly a life modeling the spirituality of Fr. Solanus that I had always loved and felt I had found a home. In May 2019, I graduated with my B.S. in chemistry and in God’s supreme generosity, moved to Blessed Solanus Casey Convent in September, with the first class of postulants to live in Fr. Solanus’ former home.