Jesus is calling me to give myself totally to Him by entering Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio...and I need YOUR help! Raised in a wonderful Protestant family, I attended Indiana Wesleyan University, where I studied History (mainly Reformation history--a dangerous thing if you wish to remain Protestant!). I had a professor who encouraged me to "follow the truth wherever it leads"...and it led me to the Catholic Church. For years, I had been yearning to encounter Jesus in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. Meeting Him there changed my whole life. I came to know His spousal Love for me, and for the whole world. I continued my history studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, where I served as a Graduate Assistant. Though those were fruitful years for me, I realized that I was not created to spend my life in the academic world. I moved back to Ashville, Ohio, and became involved in my home parish, St. John XXIII Catholic Church in Canal Winchester. I am very blessed to currently serve as the parish secretary of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Circleville, Ohio. Three years ago, I received a call to consecrate my virginity to Christ. I understood that Jesus desired me to be one with Him in the Cross in a way that precluded human marriage. With my spiritual director, Fr. Patrick, I began discerning the vocation of a consecrated virgin living in the world. I intended to apply to my bishop to be received into formation this past June. But then, my world turned upside down in one of those startling twists that reminds us Who is actually writing the Story... Last February, I went on a retreat at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery, a Byzantine Catholic community of nuns. In my prayer during my retreat, the Voice of Jesus startled me with a very clear call: "Be poor with Me. To be poor is to be dependent. Trust Me." During Divine Liturgy (the Eucharistic liturgy equivalent to the Roman Catholic Mass) the next day, I was overwhelmed by a powerful sense of right belonging--which was absurd, I tried to tell myself, because the Liturgy was unfamiliar to me and the nuns were strangers! But God quickly spoke to me again, through my director, affirming the call to open my heart to Him in the possibility of religious life in this monastic context. I talked with Mother Theodora, the hegumena (abbess), and began discerning with the monastery. During the month of June, I experienced an "observership," a period of three weeks during which I lived, prayed, worked, and ate with the nuns, sharing in their community life of prayer and hospitality. This included the adventure of Girls' Camp, four fabulous days of loving and forming 25 delightful teenaged girls in the Faith. During my observership, Jesus (with some help from St. Therese of Lisieux!) made clear to me that He is calling me to enter the monastery to continue discerning my monastic vocation. But in order to follow this call, I need your help! A woman cannot be received as a dokimos (a beginner in the monastic life, "one who learns") if she has debt. I have $16,000 remaining of my student loans, an amount that would take me seven years to pay off at my current rate (which is the highest rate I can manage on the salary of a parish secretary!). I confess that it is very humbling for me to acknowledge my poverty and ask for help. It is painful (a salutary pain!) to realize that my self-sufficiency is an illusion, and that I am simply a child, waiting for my Father to act on my behalf. This is the reality. I am poor and in need of the aid of my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you are willing to allow God to provide for my need through the material blessings He has bestowed upon you, please consider giving. No amount is too small to matter (though, of course, larger gifts are very helpful, too!). I am grateful for, and humbled by, any contribution you are able to offer to enable me to enter the monastery and continue to discern my call to give myself totally to Jesus my Bridegroom. As the enemy has tried to sow anxiety in my heart as I face my own inability to make this happen, the Father reminds me that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and I can rest in Him. In the words of Madeleine Delbrel, I will "receive this assistance as coming from God through others." Christ the Bridegroom Monastery was started in 2009, in response to Pope John Paul II's call in Orientale Lumen to establish traditional Eastern monasticism in the West. It is a Byzantine Catholic community in the Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma, an Eastern Rite Catholic Church in union with Rome. Its charisms are prayer (particularly for Christian unity), and hospitality (especially to priests and seminarians). There are currently five nuns. You can learn more about them on their website: http://www.christthebridegroom.org/ God bless you for your generosity! Please pray for me, and know that I pray for you!!!