Students discern religious vocations
According to Vocal Performance Senior Stephanie Roca, joining religious life is just like falling in love.
Roca has been considering joining the religious life in the Roman Catholic Church and moved in to the Magnificat Discernment House in January to help her experience daily operations in religious life.
Roca remembers first considering a religious vocation after reading a biography of St. Therese of Liseux when she was nine years old.
"I vividly remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom, finishing the story and thinking 'Wow, I want to be a nun, too,'" Roca said. "It was like the most natural thing in the world. It never went away."
Chad Aubert, religious studies senior, began his journey toward a religious vocation in high school and has a different grasp on which vocation and order he wants to enter.
"I started thinking about religious life as a possibility in my senior year of high school," Aubert said. "I went to Brother Martin, and their vocation director would come to our classes. He talked about what religious life was, what the Brothers of the Sacred Heart did and he invited us to a 'Come and See'."
For Aubert, a "Come and See" was an invitation to come to the house
of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, have dinner and take a tour to see what religious life was like for the brothers.
Ashlyn Haycook, sociology sophomore, said that she began to feel a call to become a pastor in the United Methodist Church her freshman year of college.
"It started out as a sort of vocational discernment about what I really loved to do and how I could turn that into a vocation," Haycook said.
As Haycook realized that a religious vocation was an option for her, she said that she looked back on her life and found further encouragement for her vocation.
"The idea of preaching had never really existed before as an option for me as a woman. I went to Catholic school, so we just went off of what we were taught, but I would get into arguments with my religious teachers about why girls couldn't be priests," Haycook said. "Looking back, I really do think that was God planting this seed in my heart of what he wanted for me, even if I had no idea at the time."
Though religious life piqued the interests of all three individuals at different phases in their lives, each mentioned their next step - researching religious life.
Aubert's research led him to the Vision Vocation Guide, a magazine
that talks about religious life and different religious orders.
"It's like Christian Mingle for people who want to go into religious orders," Aubert said.
Vision also has a website that allows individuals discerning religious orders to take a quiz about personal preferences in regard to religious orders. The quiz results rank religious orders according to the individual's preferences and can send the results to different religious orders around the world.
Aubert got emails from the religious orders, and a few offered to help him travel to experience daily life with their respective orders.
In the fall of 2012, Roca attended a talk and met Sister Diane Roche. Sister Diane helps run the discernment house, which provides housing for women who want to know more about religious life and what it entails.
"The discernment house was luck," Roca said.
Haycook said that she found the process of being a Methodist pastor difficult and took a step back.
"I decided to dedicate my summer to serving God and serving God's people as best I could to try this whole thing on for size. I went to Japan as a missionary, and I got this incredible affirmation that I am in fact called to do something big in the church," Haycook said.
Haycook's summer led her to realize that she wants to be a missionary.
"It's just a matter of whether I plan to do that as a layperson or as a minister," Haycook said.
Haycook said that no matter what she decides, religious discernment has helped her examine herself and her relationship with her faith.
"It makes you so in tune with yourself and your spiritual gifts, and it forces you to examine the desires you feel in your heart much more intimately than you would really do otherwise," Haycook said.
Aubert said that his journey discerning a religious vocation has taught him about himself and his faith.
"It's about me letting myself be moved by God and God knowing what's best for me, because God created me and has been leading me the whole way," Aubert said.
Roca said that she recognizes that the process of discerning a religious vocation has difficulties, but she takes them to be part of the process.
"I've just come to the conclusion that God is the epitome of the beautiful," Roca said. "You just want to fill yourself up with that and share it with people."
Kylee McIntyre may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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