Vocation Awareness Day Aug. 3: One young woman's story of hearing God's call
CHARLOTTE — Vocation Awareness Day will be held Aug. 3. Read one young local woman's story of hearing God's call to religious life:
Following God's Call: Young St. Ann parishioner prepares for religious life
DAVIDSON — Katie Lewis, an 18-year-old parishioner at St. Ann Church in Charlotte and recent homeschool graduate, is preparing to enter the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Mich., in August.
How does a champion-level Irish step dancer and coffee shop barista discern a call to become a nun?
Here is her vocation story in her own words:
"I learned from a young age that service to my parish was an important part of being a Catholic; both of my parents have always been active in parish life. During my high school years, I taught religious education classes and helped on confirmation retreats.
"Like most people, I know that I could spend more time in prayer than I do. That said, God has granted me a growth in my prayer life over the years that I cannot overvalue. Many times, as a student I would find myself frantic and overwhelmed. I would go to my mother looking for something practical to help. Her first question was always, 'How is your prayer time?' 'Are you ordering your day with morning prayer?' It was a gift, albeit a bit unwelcome at the time, to know that a better day planner wasn't really my answer. In the last year or so, my prayer time has also been enhanced by praying with the Church through the Liturgy of the Hours – as confusing as it was at first.
"When I was in eighth grade, I went on a field trip with nine other girls to visit the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville, Tenn. It was a wonderful trip and that was when I first felt myself drawn to the religious life. Seeing the sisters, and how joyful they all were, sparked something in my heart that caused me to sincerely consider what God might be calling me to do. I was surprised and a bit caught off guard by what I saw and felt.
"My family has been very open about discussing vocations and making sure that all of the children know that God has a unique plan for each of us. We have prayed for vocations as a family, and for particular seminarians as well. It has always been more about being open to what God is calling me to than necessarily talking about any particular vocation. I also have been blessed with several parish priests who have become close family friends. One of the things they have in common is the joy they have in their vocations.
"Most recently, and I believe when God had decided it was the proper time, I met Sister Joseph Andrew, O.P., and she was the one who helped me to put the pieces together. She was at Belmont Abbey College leading a retreat for young women on Blessed John Paul II's letter 'On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.' It was only a one-day retreat, but God worked quickly! I left with an invitation to a weekend retreat in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
"I believe that God picked it for me. I loved being with the Sisters in Nashville, but Ann Arbor felt like 'home' right from the beginning. The contemplative life is so noble and beautiful, and I love the nuns I know who are called to it, yet I knew in my heart that it wasn't God's plan for me.
"Naïvely, I will say that His plan for me is teaching. I thought that I would be a teacher even before thinking about religious life. I once joked with Sister Joseph Andrew that I always knew God wanted me in a classroom, I just didn't know how I would be dressed! I will still be fulfilling that calling after I enter, as Dominicans are almost all teachers. Still, I know from the examples in Scripture and of the saints that God does not need any particular gifts or talents of mine to accomplish His will for me – He requires only my willingness to cooperate. Even in the areas where I think I am naturally gifted, I can do nothing without Him.
"I will admit to a bit of internal panic when I first thought about the sacrifice – being away from my family and friends for such an extended period and not being able to have my own family some day. I remember saying, 'God has really just been there for me but He's never really asked anything of me before. Now the first time He asks for anything, He's asking for everything!' But once I started trusting that maybe He knows what is best for me, things became much easier. He has always been faithful and good, and I trust that what He is calling me to is going to fill all the truest desires of my heart.
"I would encourage anyone to be open to what God might have planned for them. Stay focused on who God is, rather than who you think you are or what you think you can or cannot do. The Church is there to help you in your discernment.
"You have nothing to fear in giving God your 'yes.'"
-- SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy