Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Sep 18, 2010, Beatification of Cardinal Newman
When I first felt a call to religious life, I thought, “I am as qualified to be a nun as I am to be an astronaut for NASA.” This call, however, was so strong in me that I could do nothing but obey it, though I had no idea where it would lead. The gracious hospitality and genuine kindness of the sisters at St. Martin’s Monastery, who literally, took in a stranger, was a great support and encouragement to me as I discerned. Support from other priests and religious and from many people who never knew me well have also been helpful.
Seminarian Zane Pekron
“My discernment has been greatly influenced by both my parish and my family. They have both shown tremendous support for me through words of encouragement and little notes from time to time. It has also been very affirming and consoling that I know that so many people are praying for me that I may follow God's will for my life.”
Sr. Cecelia Clare
“Growing up, we had very prayerful and faithful people in my parish. Their involvement was more than just attending Mass each Sunday and putting something in the collection plate. Within my family, attending Mass each Sunday was extremely important, and each of us participated in various ministries: mom and me in music ministry, and my dad as an usher and Knight of Columbus, and my brother as an altar server. When I discerned my vocation many years later, I was a young adult in a parish in St. Paul, MN. I was terrified to tell anyone I was discerning, but when I did, so many people were very supportive and encouraging. A culture of perpetual adoration was well established at this parish, and I entered into this, and in God's grace and mercy, eventually discerned my vocation to religious life.”
Seminarian Mark Wesolick
“My discernment was influenced mainly by my family and priest friends. My parents continually told me that I should ask God what He wants me to do with my life, and the priests we had around made me wonder if that is what God wanted me to do. My parents always led my closer to Christ, even when I didn't realize it, by signing me up for different camps and programs where I was able to see God work. The priests I know and saw always seemed to be filled with joy and I wanted to partake in the same joy.”
“My vocation was fostered in many ways growing up. My mom took me to Daily Mass before pre-school and my family was very faithful to Sunday Mass. I was able to participate in many diocesan events that helped my faith grow, but Totus Tuus and the Women’s Discernment Weekend offered by the Vocations Office were very important in my discernment. At Totus Tuus, I first met religious sisters and came to know that this life was a real possibility in the 21st century. The discernment weekends helped me to see religious life as a possibility for me personally. In my senior year of high school, I went to a youth festival and was able to go to confession and heard beautiful talks and went to Mass and so I had this burst of faith that carried over through the week that got my soul in a really good place. Then a week later (still in a wonderful place spiritually), I helped out at a confirmation retreat, with the youth group from my parish. It was there, listening to a testimony on marriage that I realized that married life was a gift. I also realized though that this wasn’t the gift that he was giving me, that he was going to give me the gift of being the spouse of Christ. ”
Seminarian Josh Lee
The culture of my parish really helped me to discern the seminary because they were always talking to me, inviting me to parish and local events as well as inviting me to help out with things such as religious education in the church. Parishioners frequently affirmed in me qualities that resembled those of priesthood and constantly encouraged me to find out more about a vocation. This only strengthened what I was feeling in my heart. My family has also offered tremendous support for my discernment even though it meant great sacrifice on their part because they could see a vocation to the priesthood as a real thing in my life. The encouragement from people throughout the diocese with little nudges to look into seminary and questions as to why I never went to seminary started wheels turning in my mind and heart in an enormous way. The thought that keeps running through my mind is "When God nudges you to talk to someone or to say something positive to them, do it. You never know the profound effect that may have on someone."
Sr. Joan Kolbe
Although I had only ever thought of religious life once before going to college, the culture of my home parish, St. Patrick's in Wall, and my family was rooted in deep faith and trust in God's love. It was first through my family's dedication of showing me the love of Christ and then encountering that love even further in my parish family that my heart was influenced to seek God and desire to know Him even deeper. Through the many faithful people of the diocese who supported and encouraged vocations to the religious life, I was given great hope that I would always have many people praying for me as I sought to do God's will by becoming a religious sister. The joyful support of each person I have met in the diocese has affirmed my desire to give my life totally to Jesus and to trust that in the Heart of Christ we are always together.
Seminarian Todd VanderMay
This summer I was immersed in a culture where people showed you than giving up comfort and striving for greatness is attractive and where priests and seminarians could show me they are not perfect people in their own perfect world, but normal people trying to make the world Christ’s through their own unique greatness. I’ve lived in the world and have been quite comfortable. Now it is time to let God work greatness through me, so I may bring His joy to others.
“Primarily, my discernment to religious life was introduced by my family, as God used them to very gently plant the seeds of the vocation, so that I began to ask myself, “could I do that [be a religious sister] too?” However, the Lord allowed my discernment to be daily influenced through the zealous love and guidance of the diocese’s vocation office, priests and young adults.
Over the course of high school (I entered the year after graduation 2015) and during my summers, our Lord, full of infinite wisdom, crossed my path with many other religious women and spiritual directors who guided me in a constant search for truth and continually encouraged my discernment of Christ’s plan for my life. St. Augustine once stated, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.” How true it is! As discernment became more serious, the peace and joy that filled my soul from resting in Christ’s love was all I needed for affirmation that this was His desire for me. I only felt fulfilled if I was focused on Him. I only felt most happy when I directed the eyes of my heart towards his merciful gaze. I knew only one path could satisfy my thirst for this intimate truth and love: religious life.”
Seminarian Adam Johnson
I am grateful to have a diocese that supports me as well as a community that has lifted me up. I attended Blessed Sacrament and the community environment has encouraged me and supported me through this. From being a small group leader for confirmation to leading and being an MC at retreats. However the biggest factor in my discernment has been the persistence of the thought of going back to the seminary. I am ready to give my whole heart in pursuing what God wants for my life.