I arrived in St. Louis and was happy to find that same feeling of “at home-ness” that I had felt when I was at Clyde. The monastery looked very different than their house in Clyde and the city setting was not the same as the remote rural nature of Clyde but there was something the same there. Something that put my soul at ease. I spent about a week there with the sisters. My biological sister lived in St. Louis and she came to meet the sisters as well. She was very impressed and passed the word through the family that she thought this was the right place for me. I mentioned this to some of the sisters and they said, “You should listen to your family.”
I returned back to Texas with much to ponder. On a rational level, I knew that the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration was where I felt the most at ease, whose lifestyle seemed like it would suit me.. BUT… there was something in me that was resisting the finality of saying “YES.”
Towards the end of the year (1998), there was this internal pressure to make a decision. I felt every where I turned, the Lord was asking “will you follow me?” I could resist no longer. I still didn’t want to be a nun but I knew it was God was asking of me. I resigned myself to being bored and unhappy for the rest of my life because I was going to do what God asked of me. With a somewhat heavy heart, I called and asked if I could begin the application process. This began a whirlwind of activity.
There were recommendations I needed to get, medical and dental check-ups, as well as another trip to St. Louis for an interview with the vocation director and a psychological assessment. All these are standard requirements for most people entering religious life today. I was too ignorant to be nervous. Happily, my friend, Alanna, was in St. Louis at the same time for the same things. We were able to share with each other our experiences and it laid the groundwork for a friendship that has continued to this day. After all my paperwork was complete, all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, I returned to Texas to wait to hear from the sisters whether or not I was accepted. Alanna and I joked that if neither of us were accepted we would start our own community out on her family farm in Kansas.
In early spring of 1999, I got a call from the community I had been with in California. One of their members was just diagnosed with cancer. They asked if I would be able to come for a few months to help out while she was going through radiation treatments. I didn’t have anything else on my agenda so I happily went. It was good for me to be back there and get to say good-bye. It was while I was there that I got the call from the Benedictine Sisters saying they would be happy to receive me as a postulant on September 14th of that same year.
I returned to Texas in June and spent time packing and getting rid of my things I would no longer need. I lived with my sister for a few months and then made the journey to St. Louis. I didn’t have much stuff – 2 suitcases and a couple of boxes. I spent a few days with my sister in St. Louis and then went to the convent there. One of the sisters had offered to drive me to Clyde. It was a five hour drive but seemed to go by very quickly. I had a moment of panic when we got close to the convent but that passed.
It was the evening of September 13th when at last I arrived at the door, there were several sisters waiting to welcome me and also my friend Alanna who had also been accepted. Even though I was nervous I was also excited. I was shown to my room and had a chance to unpack. There were many many notes and small cards in my room –welcomes from individual sisters. It was so touching. The next day our entrance ceremony was to take place at noon. The morning was spent unpacking and being told where to stand, sit, say for the ritual.
At last at noon on September 14, 1999 – the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross –I became a postulant. I wasn’t quite a nun yet but I was on my way. The first part of my journey was over and another exciting one was beginning.
A little epilogue: As God so humorously planned it, my first work assignment was in the Altar Bread Department. I LOVED it, as He knew I would! I have yet to be bored. And I have been happier than I ever thought possible. It is not the life I ever dreamed about having as a child, it has surpassed those dreams. There is a lot that I have given up – marriage, family life, a career – but I have gained so much more. I honestly cannot imagine being anywhere else. I used to whine “Why me?” to God when I felt that initial call to religious life and now with prayers of wonder I still ask “why me?” I don’t deserve the blessings that have come my way but I receive them with deep gratitude and pray that somehow I may be a channel of grace for our world.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.