Sister Maria Goretti
I was raised in a Catholic family. We went to church every Sunday and prayed the rosary every now and then. Growing up I served as an altar server at my home parish for many years and was in an active part of our youth group. However, it was not until high school that I really accepted Catholicism as my faith. I remember just going through the motions of going to Mass seeing it as something that I just had to do or was told to do. I never really understood what the whole point was.
When I was in high school, God gave me the grace to make a choice. I chose to explore this faith that I was baptized and confirmed into. It was through asking questions to trusted Catholic adults in my life at the time that the seedlings of a possible vocation to the Religious Life started to take root. In grade 11, I met the Sisters at Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland while on a day pilgrimage. My youth leader at the time somewhat forced me to sign up on their mailing list. A few months later, I received an email asking to help out on a retreat that the Sisters were hosting and, I’m still not sure what possessed me to say yes, but I did. Keep in mind that at the time, I knew little to nothing about these Sisters! Nevertheless, I went and it was an amazing experience. The Sisters radiated so much love and joy that came from within. It was true love and true joy that could not be repeated. I remember thinking that I want that love and joy that’s not fleeting. When I returned home, my mom even commented on how different I was noting that I seem happier and joyous.
A few months later, I attended the Steubenville Toronto conference with my youth group. It was the Saturday night Adoration and the priest had told us to ask Our Lord for a 1-word answer to a question. So, I very boldly asked, “Lord, do you want me to be a sister?” For the depths of my heart, I heard the word “yes” as clear as day. I knew in that moment where He was calling me. I immediately broke down into tears and thought “no way, there is no way I can do this. I am still super young.” For about a year I ran from the call wanting nothing to do with it. However, through that whole year, it was still in the back of my mind, pulling and tugging at my heart.
When I entered university, one of my good friends was also entering the seminary and so I took that as an example for myself. I thought if he can discern priesthood, why can’t I discern religious life? What’s stopping me? So, I started actively discerning which meant I got a spiritual director and I started to visit the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate, since they were the only community I knew of at the time. When I visited, as I walked through the halls, there was a great sense of peace and home. It fit like glove, which scared me at first! The biggest paradigm shift that I took with regard to the Religious Life was realizing that this life is not about the things you give up but rather what you gain. I realized that Our Lord is calling me to a Bride of Christ, to give myself entirely to Him and to spend eternity with Him starting now. I realized that He is calling me to be a spiritual mother to all. After a couple more years of discernment outside the convent, I entered on September 8th, 2018.
My family and friends, at first, struggled to understand my decision but they were always and continue to be extremely supportive. I know that it is through their prayers that I am persevering in the convent. My humble advice to anyone discerning a religious vocation is to really get to know about the life and about the vows. It will make a great deal of difference especially when it comes to overcoming certain fears that we may have. May God bless you all and may Our Lady keep you ever close to her!