My vocation story started when I was interested in converting to Catholicism my senior year of High School. I was not raised in any particular church. I had a friend who was Catholic but hated everything about it and would complain to me about what she had to do in the Church. At that time, I had become involved with a Methodist Church, and I felt like something was missing. As I listened to what my friend was saying about the Catholic Church, I thought that there is something more in her Church.
I was reading a spiritual book by a nun, one day, while doing laundry in the basement the summer before going to the University of Pittsburgh. The thought/ image came to my mind about being a religious sister.
I just sat there and pondered where that came from. I thought how funny it would be if, at this same time next year, I would be Catholic and looking into joining an order. I tried to put it out of my head, but the thought kept coming up. The most significant problem with this was that I wasn’t Catholic, and I had never met a religious or had even talked to a priest.
While at Pitt, I went to a cookout at the Newman Center during orientation week and heard about the RCIA meetings the next week. I just showed up on the doorstep and asked about converting. I then started looking into religious orders. After six years, I stopped looking and had decided to go back and get my Teaching certification at Pitt.
A priest friend of mine suggested that I go to St. Emma Monastery for a week retreat after completing my teaching certificate. During the retreat, I observed how the sisters interacted both in prayer and at work. At the end of my visit, I sat in my room and just looked at the crucifix and just laughed. Now, after going back to school and getting further in debt, you show me the place where you want me. Due to my financial situation, I had to wait to enter.
Two years later, at the beginning of Lent, I learned that my teaching contract wasn’t renewed. The ladies whose house I was watching while I was teaching were coming back earlier than I had anticipated. I prayed to God that He had to do something soon if He wanted me to enter, and becoming homeless and jobless in the following months wasn’t helping.
My Easter miracle, several anonymous benefactors, came forward and had made arraignments with my Pastor to cover my student loans while I was in the Monastery. Later that week a former employer called and asked if I wanted some summer work, I said yes! With this unexpected turn of events, Mother offered for me to stay at the Monastery while I was finishing up other obligations. Within eight months, I was where God wanted me.
Check out a Day in the Life of Sr. Maria Johanna here: