Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Acting on God's Invitation

Shannon Cawley
Shannon Cawley is a discerner with the Daughters of Charity. She shares what has been integral to her discernment journey. Please join us in praying for Shannon as she discerns God's call.

I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the special people God has placed in my life--from the three individuals who challenged me to consider a vocation in religious life, to the Sisters I've met along the way, my spiritual director, friends and family.

In reflecting on my discernment journey, my need for interaction with others has changed and deepened. One of the hardest obstacles in my discernment was the initiation. I knew God was inviting me to discern my vocation, but I didn't take any action for two years because I was afraid of where it might lead.

I decided to begin by taking a leap of faith and sharing my intent of discerning my vocation with a friend who shared my faith. That was the best decision I ever made because she immediately encouraged me to look into a particular community and sent me information about an online discernment retreat with the Daughters of Charity, which was another important part of my discernment. I would encourage anyone in the process of discernment to find at least one person to share their journey with who they trust and who walks closely with the Lord.

The online discernment retreat with the Daughters was perfect for me because it allowed me to take one step further in my discernment journey without having to let a whole group of retreatants know I was considering religious life. Speaking with Sister Sharon Richardt for those five days opened my eyes and heart to possibilities within religious life. Before the retreat, the idea of religious life was very intangible, but after speaking with Sister Sharon, I realized Sisters are real, down-to-earth people called by God to live their lives in a special way.

As I continued my discernment, it was very important for me to visit with different communities to learn about their charisms and apostolates, and to spend time talking with their Sisters. Events like Nun Runs and Come and See weekends helped me get an initial idea of how different communities live, but as I've continued my discernment journey, I've found spending more time with Sisters on special visits and talking with vocation directors to be most helpful. It's been invaluable to spend time with Sisters doing everyday things, like helping clean up at a local Catholic school, because it helped me better understand the heartbeat of their lives. This has been important for me because it will allow me to find my home as I continue to reflect on the desires God has placed on my heart and discover the person He has created me to be.

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