Charity is the most excellent virtue; it alone is sufficient to make a Paradise of your home or workplace.
Venerable Mother Clelia Merloni

Vocation Stories

Sr. Colleen Patricia Mattingly, ASCJ

It means to "Share God's love with all His people." I will never forget the day I heard those words for the first time from Sr. Susan Marie Krupp, an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a hot, sunny day in Florida and we were chatting on a bench outside St. John Paul II Catholic High School. I was a college student at Florida State University and she had just asked me if I'd like to hear the Apostle's charism (gift the Holy Spirit gives to a founder/foundress to begin a religious Congregation). I told her with a little hesitation, "Okay..." 

The reason I had hesitation was because I had discerned with several different communities and didn't feel as though I "clicked" with any. I was frustrated and discouraged. I was beginning to think God had called me to be a sister, but didn't have a congregation in mind for me. What I didn't realize is that the missing puzzle piece of my life was staring me straight in the face!

As I listened to this sister describe the charism of the Apostles, I felt the Holy Spirit moving in me. I almost heard a voice saying, "This is it! This is what you've always wanted to do!" I couldn't believe it was so simple: To share God's love with all His people. But the message resonated within my heart. I had been on a powerful retreat a few years before, and after experiencing God's love in a profound way in Eucharistic adoration, I found myself saying to God, "How could I possibly give back to you all you've given to me?" I found God saying to me, "You could give your life to me." Gulp! My life? What? How about something a bit smaller?

I then began the quest of discovering how I could give my life back to God. I recognize in hindsight that God simply wants us to give our lives back to Him every day, in the little ways. But I couldn't shake that God wanted me to give my life to Him...in a big way. I think a vocation to religious life is a big gift from God. It is not easy, in fact it is almost completely counter-cultural. I suppose that is why it is called a grace. I have been graced with a religious vocation, but it has been discerned communally. In other words, I have shared this desire for religious life with many spiritual directors who helped me respond to this call from God. We need other people to help us navigate the deep desires of our hearts. I am so grateful for this life. I will pray for you as you discover your own vocation! In the meantime, let us follow St. Therese of Lisieux's advice: "My vocation is to love."