Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Religious life after high school

St. Mary's Ryken seniors plan to enter religious life after graduation

Catholic Standard staff

Two seniors at St. Mary's Ryken High School in Leonardtown (MD) plan to enter religious life at the end of the school year. Emma Madden (pictured right), 18, will begin discernment with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, and Meagan Schreyer (pictured left), 17, will enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia of Nashville, Tenn.

"I was 11 when God first placed the call in my heart. I had this knowing and understanding that my entire life was created by Him (God) and for Him," Madden said. "I can do nothing better than giving my everything to Him."

For Schreyer, the call to religious life also came at a very early age.

"I first knew God was calling me in the fourth grade, but I put it off until first year of high school," she said. "It was then I felt the call so strongly that I knew I could not put it off any longer, and I could not ignore it."

Both say they were supported in their decisions by attending Catholic school.

"Being in a Catholic school made it easier to discern my vocation. God has put wonderful people in my life, and at Ryken I have grown so much in my faith," Madden said. "This school radiates an authentic Catholic beauty."

Schreyer said her classmates have encouraged her in her religious vocation.

"The kids here at Ryken are intrigued by the idea of giving your life to God," she said. "They are excited and happy for me."

Both Madden and Schreyer have attended St. Mary's Ryken High School for all four years of their high school careers. The school is sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers.

"It is truly a very blessed time for our St. Mary's Ryken community," said Mary Joy Hurlburt , president of the school. "We have witnessed Meagan's and Emma's courage and wisdom as they heard and accepted God's calling them to a religious vocation. Throughout their four years, they have opened their hearts and minds to the grace of falling in love with the service of God."

Madden, the daughter of Stephen and Laura Madden of Leonardtown, said she chose to enter Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara because "one of my teachers introduced the order to me and it felt as close to home as I could imagine."

"All religious orders are beautiful, but God shows you where He wants you," she said. "There is an active and a contemplative branch (to the order), and I am still not yet sure what God is calling me to. I have no doubt He will make all things known to me."

Schreyer, the daughter of Michael and Laura Schreyer of La Plata, said she chose the Dominican order because "my spiritual director suggested the Dominicans, and I fell in love with everything about them."

"They are teachers, and I would love to be able to teach theology or English or music, but I would teach whatever they ask me to teach - I'm putting that part in God's hand," she said.

She added that her family and friends "are very excited for me."

"My parents were a little surprised because they did not see it coming, but they are both very supportive. They are both joyful," Schreyer said. "All my friends have been very supportive, but some of them who are not Catholic say to me, 'You would be a good mom', and I say, 'Thank you - that is what being a sister is - being a spiritual mother to those around you.' "

Madden also said she has the support of her family and friends.

"My parents have had a while to digest it. At first I think it was kind of a shock to the system for them, but over time and through prayer, they have come to love it," she said. "And my closest friends are all very authentically loving and supportive of what I am doing."

The two seniors also have advice for others considering a religious vocation.

"Do not be afraid of the love that God is calling you to. The world will try to draw you away from Him and tell you that you can live a happy life without God, but He is the only one who can ever make you happy," Madden said. "If anyone thinks they may have a religious call, I say let it grow in silence. Trust in God - He will lead you where He wants you to be."

Schreyer suggested that those discerning a vocation should pray frequently.

"The most important thing is to pray and to just keep in mind that a vocation is not a job or a career - it is falling in love with God the way He wants you to," she said. "It is beautiful and not something to be afraid of."

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