I wanted to share my reflections on the recent vow ceremony to install new Companions that we held on Sunday morning, April 25. To better understand how meaningful this ceremony was to me, I feel it is important to first share my background with you.
From the age of five, when I attended my first Mass, I was deeply impressed by the beauty of the Catholic Church and I think that was the first time I felt Christ calling me to conversion, although I was much too young to realize that at the time.
As a teen, my mother and I would grocery shop every Saturday. I did not like grocery shopping and always asked mom if I could go to the nearby public library instead. In the library, I would read Butler’s Lives of the Saints.
After graduating high school, my sister-in-law and closest friend was killed instantly in a car accident on December 10, 1975. Linda’s death was by far the most shattering, life-changing event I have encountered. In the months following her death, I struggled with deep depression and suicidal thoughts.
One Sunday, in April 1976, during the homily, I felt an extremely comforting, peaceful sense of calm completely envelope me. I did not understand what was happening, but I loved the feeling!
This event resulted in breaking that downward spiral of depression. My suicidal thoughts gradually ended and within several months I began studies at a Lutheran college in Wisconsin and graduated with a dual degree in psychology and religion.
I fell away from worship
After graduation and after working many years for the electric utility in South Bend, Indiana, I relocated to Columbus, Ohio.
During the period of relocation, focusing on my career and getting used to living in a much larger city, my faith weakened and I fell away from worship. In December 2011, my brother-in-law was nearly killed in an accident. He recovered, but spent more than two months in the Intensive Care Unit. One day I neglected to take a book to read while waiting to visit Earl. A good friend who was a devout Catholic stopped by. Realizing I had nothing to read, she said, “Wait here – I’ll be right back.”
She reappeared bearing a paper grocery bag of reading material … The Word Among Us, Magnificat, several holy cards, a Catholic Lectio Divina Bible, and even a Catholic church supply catalog.
This gift of grace made me realize that I was being called to return to worship at a Catholic congregation.
I finally became Catholic
At Easter Vigil, March 30, 2013, I finally became a Catholic. I felt right at home in my new church. I heard it said, “Before I became Catholic, I attended church. After I converted, I found my faith.”
I find this statement to be so true. Shortly after, I met Sister Dorothy Doyle and Joanne Bellisari and then was introduced to Donna Sauer, who is my mentor and my close friend. Donna, Sr. Dorothy and Joanne introduced me to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
At the Companion’s Retreat Weekend in August, 2015, I met some of our Companions and I was impressed with the deep faith that each expressed and the respect they showed toward one another. I was intrigued with the opportunity each Companion has to serve our Good Shepherd by serving others directly through our personal ministry.
After much consideration and intense prayer, I found myself wondering what my personal ministry might be. I knew then that my heart had finally been opened to my Lord and I was ready to become a Companion.
I took vows as a Companion
On Sunday morning, April 25, 2021, I felt honored to be a part of the vow ceremony to install new Companions. I made my first vows as a Companion of Jesus the Good Shepherd, along with Helene Steve, who is mentored by Companion Alice Caulson.
Twelve other Companions witnessed the vows that Helene and I took. After our ceremony, the other Companions renewed their own vows. Thanks to Zoom, I am connected with the other fine Companions who I hope to befriend in the months to come.
It has taken me a very long time to reach this pivotal and sacred point in my life and I thank the Holy Spirit for never giving up on me, but gently nudging me ever closer to our Good Shepherd.
Each morning I ask Jesus Christ to lead me in my personal ministry of reaching out to the isolated and lonely through letter-writing and to learn to see each person I encounter through His compassionate eyes.
I want to extend my service, and learn to live my life to emulate St. Mary Euphrasia’s words, “A person is of more value than the whole world.”
Read more stories about Companions in the Province newsletter Items of Interest.