In June of 2008, after completing college and beginning a teaching career, I was asked, “Have you ever felt that you are being called to a religious life?” While there was something in my heart, it wasn’t clear what that might be. Was God really calling ME to follow him? This tugging at my heart persisted.
I was aware of the Sorrowful Mother Shrine and recalled going there as a small child, but not as an adult. I followed this nudging in my heart to make my way to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine.
My journey of discernment began. As I entered the chapel, I noticed that I was the only person present. I was completely alone, surrounded by the peace and serenity of silence. I began to pray, asking God, “Could it be possible that you are calling me?”
That day, I recall encountering a powerful prayer experience. After that two-hour prayer encounter, I felt very strongly that I was being called by God but wasn’t sure where that call would lead me or how it would unfold. I left the chapel with many questions, but felt assured that God would lead me on this journey.
During the remainder of that summer, I continued to attend the shrine and spend time in prayer and reflection. I also drew strength from James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” My devotion to Mary increased as I continued to pursue my journey of discovery and discernment. I continued to pray that summer, and the following year, continually asking, “Could God possibly be calling me?” During this time, I also continued my profession as a teacher.
The time spent at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine moved me and I became even closer to God during my quest for answers and direction. Over the next year, I researched many different religious communities. My discernment led me to the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin, where I became a candidate in 2010 and a novice in 2011. Over the ensuing years in formation, I continued to discern my call and often visited the Sorrowful Mother Shrine. On October 15, 2017, I professed perpetual profession of my vows.
Today, my heart remains connected to the sacredness of the shrine. What a holy place it is! I visit frequently and pray at the shrine, thankful for the gift of religious life to which I was called. Two of my favorite places in the woods are the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, where I often sit in prayer with the Blessed Mother, and the sepulcher – the tomb of Christ.
The sacredness of the shrine and the time I spent there in prayer, opening my heart and ears to the Blessed Mother and her Son, led me to answer God’s calling. The Sorrowful Mother Shrine was a meaningful place for me during my discernment and continues to hold a very special place in my heart.