My expectations were hazy. After nine years in the Marine Corps and a year in a religious community, I transferred to SNC in fall 2012.
After living a life of prayer for the salvation and sanctification of souls for a year, I had to leave the community, resolved to repair my life after developing bulimia nervosa. I went to therapy in Green Bay and found an apartment and work. Soon, I found out my veterans’ benefits plus an SNC grant would cover all college expenses. I was in. Transitioning to the culture of academia was rough. Joining the Norbertines for prayer, along with daily Mass and personal prayer, provided familiarity in foreign surroundings and drew me into the community that formed among the students who came to prayer.
I had wanted to be a prayer warrior with a missionary spirit while in college, resembling the life of a nun that I longed to live, but it was in prayer that I realized God was asking for something beyond prayer, study and keeping to myself. I had to embrace my vocation as a laywoman.
I became what Pope Francis calls a “missionary disciple,” active in ministry at my parish in Green Bay and in the diocese, and joining the Lumen Christi community this year, consisting of students desiring to grow in our Catholic faith together through prayer, service, and evangelization while striving to exemplify communio. The community has been a blessing, as has the opportunity to write for the Times. I normally invited readers to reflect on their faith and how God works in their lives. I hope I have used my writing to glorify God and inspire at least some.
While I have also experienced harassment, judgment, and false accusations from people in authority because of my beliefs, I have not allowed this marginalization to deter me from my course of recovery or discernment. I almost quit college last year, but by God’s grace and determination, I am healthy, I have prayerfully discerned that God is calling me back to the house of the Lord to become a Carmelite nun and I am graduating.
I am grateful to Veterans Affairs and SNC for the education I would not have received without their recognition of my service in war. Surprisingly, I thrived in classes and realized gifts I had not known I possessed.
Finally, I will leave a Cliff-Notes version of my column: 1. We can meet God in the little things, including the small opportunities to say “Yes” to Him, often in response to the needs of others. 2. Meditate on the Cross of Christ. Uniting with Jesus Crucified shows us how to suffer with and for others, allowing our wounds to be glorified in mini-resurrections. 3. Christ continually invites us to accept God’s mercy and love. Slow down, listen, and let God’s love in.
As I answer God’s call to become a spiritual mother, I will hold SNC and the people I have met here in prayer. Semper fidelis.