Sister Mary Rebecca

One evening, early in my freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was sitting in my room after finishing my homework and wondering what I could do next. The bulletin from the Sunday Mass that I had dutifully attended at the Newman Center (the Catholic Church on campus) was on my desk, and I picked it up to glance through it. I noticed that they had a Mass every weeknight at 9:00pm, and when I looked at my clock I saw that it would be starting in a few minutes. Since the Newman Center was only a block away from my dorm I decided, “Why not?” and walked to the church.

I found a place in the back just as the Mass was beginning. It was very simple, with just a small choir and nothing fancy, but as I sat there soaking it in it was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced. All around me were young people—people my age—enthusiastically participating in the Mass and there on a weeknight because they wanted to be! I had never encountered anything like it, and it opened up a deep longing in my heart. I had gone to a small Catholic school for grades 1 through 12, but it was definitely not considered “cool” to show any interest in the things of God. I, along with my friends, joined my high school choir so that during the twice-weekly school Masses I could sit in the choir loft and use the time to study for my Spanish quiz in the next period.

I had thought that religion and piety were for old people, but that one Mass in the basement of the Newman Center spoke to a hunger I didn't even know I had. I went back the next night, and the next, and the next...that was how I began attending daily Mass! I made friends at the Newman Center and started getting involved in their other activities too. I was learning more and more about being a Catholic and became excited about my faith. Meanwhile the Lord was watering the seeds of my religious vocation, but if I had suspected it at the time, I think I would have run in the opposite direction.

I was afraid to even think about my vocation since I knew deep down that if I did start looking at religious life, I would discover that I was in fact being called. Eventually however I had to be honest with myself. By the end of my second year of college, I was ready to be open about what God wanted me to do with my life. My relationship with God was important to me, and I couldn't pretend any longer that he was number one while at the same time closing myself off to his plan for me. I looked first at an active teaching order that some of my friends were entering, but it didn't seem right. When my spiritual director suggested the Pink Sisters, I knew right away that it was a fit. I had been visiting their chapel in Lincoln frequently, sometimes with a group from the Newman Center and sometimes by myself. I was attracted to the perpetual adoration like a moth to a flame, and the more I learned about their contemplative-missionary charism, the more it seemed like the Order had been formed just for me. I still had cold feet though, and I told the Lord, “Ok, if that's what you want, I'll do it, but I want to finish school first!”

The second semester of my junior year I fulfilled my dream to study abroad. I had always wanted to do it, and when I discovered that my scholarship would pay for it, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I spent six months in Malta, a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. I took advantage of the location to backpack around northern Africa and southern Europe. I met many wonderful people, saw beautiful sights, and had all kinds of adventures. The experience was priceless. I never let go of my desire to enter the cloister, but, well, traveling was fun and there was so much more of the world to see! In the back of my mind I toyed with the idea of putting off my degree for another year so that I could squeeze a few more trips in. For spring break of my senior year some of the friends that I had met in Malta took a trip to Costa Rica. We lived out of our backpacks and stayed in youth hostels just like old times. It was great! One day we were walking along the beach, heading back to the place where we were staying after having explored the rain forest all day. My friends had gotten a little ahead of me and I was watching them play in the surf. Suddenly it was like I heard a voice in my heart: “This will never satisfy you. There is something more than this.” I was having the time of my life in an exotic country with people who were very dear to me. Back home, I loved my family, my job, my college life. But it was true: my longings were even greater than the Pacific Ocean that was stretching out before me, and I knew that God alone could satisfy the desires of my heart.

After graduation, I spent the summer at home with my family (I am the oldest of seven and my youngest brother turned three years old that summer) and took one last trip with my friends. I entered the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters in the fall of 2001 and made my perpetual vows in November 2009. It hasn't always been easy, but I have definitely found the place where I am supposed to be. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

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