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A Salesian Vocation: A Very Abridged Version

The diocese of Paterson wants to have a mini autobiography of us in formation, so I have decided to share the paragraph I typed up just to give a very brief glimpse of my vocation story thus far.  The story can be expanded many pages I am sure, but this is the space we had to work with.  Read and enjoy!

Did you know that God can find you in the bathroom?  I always figured that God could do whatever He wanted to get a hold of whomever He wanted.  You see, I had never actively searched out religious life in such a way that I was sure it was my call in life.  My sophomore year of college was when I started to be open to whatever God wanted me to do in terms of vocation: married life, single life or religious life. This began from seeing a sister wearing a habit and developing a curiosity of what it would be like to live that life.  Over the years, my interest and curiosity stuck with me though I never did much about it, except the rare occasion that I would talk with my friends.  Graduation from college came along and I moved myself the following year to New Jersey from Minnesota to do something I love.  I was the volunteer intern at a retreat center that I discovered, via God, on the eleventh page of a Google search.  It turned out to be the perfect place for me!   When November came along, the director and I with four youth headed out for the National Catholic Youth Conference.  During my time there that weekend, I had my encounter with God in another very odd place.  While on my way out of the bathroom, I started to talk with two young women.  We stood in the bathroom sharing things about our lives.  As I was very quick to discover, they were a part of the Salesian Sisters.  When they first mentioned their apostolate to the youth, my mind and heart were spinning.  It was exactly what my life was filled with already.  I worked at a camp many summers, was currently working at a family retreat center and loved my faith immensely.  All I could think was “no, no, no, no, no!”  It was real and it made me excited, yet scared.  I tend to say that it took many visits to the convent, only two and half hours from where I was working, and a lot of encouragement from friends to make my decision to enter.   The truth be told after I look back on the experience, it was at that moment of first meeting the Salesians in the bathroom that my heart knew this was something I needed to try.  I guess I could still say that God worked through my surroundings to keep me on the path He wanted even though deep down he hooked me right away.  My prayer each day is that, God-willing, I am where I am supposed to be.  What else can anyone do but live each day to its fullest for the glory of God?

Inspired?  I am still inspired by my own story when I read it again! 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Living Salesian

 

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The Struggles Between

My trip to Australia for World Youth Day was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the time during my junior and senior year proved very difficult.  My studies were not going well, and I was struggling to keep myself healthy.  It was hard to focus on what was truly the most important thing in my life; knowing, believing, and sharing the love of Christ.  While yes, I went to church and still did all those campus ministry things, something was still not feeling right for me.  It tended that I would drift into the side of depression every now and then.  I did not show or feel many signs that one could attach with such a label, nor was I really diagnosed with depression.  It was just something that was there every now and then.  That pushed me away from faith in God despite my active faith life.

My junior year was an exploration of what in the world I was planning on doing with my major.  Sure, it was interesting, but it was getting harder and harder.  I had decided that I was not interested so much in working in parish work.  While I would be getting amazing experience in the field, and I would enjoy it, it just seemed not suitable to me at this time in life.  That put a damper on my studies some as most people who study what I study works in some form of parish work, although many don’t.   The year was overall hard, but what helped was the close friends that I have had and gained that year.

Senior year came about and I had an internship, that we were making up as we go, in retreat work.  Or so I did for half the year.  Second semester, I had to drop it due to many things.  Resulting from that, I needed to find a two credit class because with dropping the internship I had not enough credits to graduate.  I can not tell you the stress that comes from that.  As well that year, the struggles just got harder and harder.  The grades were dropping, the professors expected so much, and I was becoming withdrawn again.  I still had great friends, and a couple real close ones who knew my every move, almost literally!  There were some real dark moments, but I learned from each and everyone of them.  My last freak out of the school year was when I had grades in the CD range.  I had read that the average grade in the major was a C.  No one could tell me if it was overall, or in each class.  Basically, in the end I was able to graduate.  Let me tell you, the best thing for me.

Now, why would I open myself up even this little bit into the struggles of my life?  I am a real person, and while I may give you all this happy stuff, I hit some dark moments as well as many other struggles.  That May 2009 when I graduated, I was the happiest I could have ever felt.  Close friends of mine felt exactly what I felt as I was struggling with classes and felt what I felt when I was able to get my degree (two actually…first one had a blotch on it).  There was so much that I learned about myself as I had reflect upon my four years at Saint Mary’s.  Summer 2009 was a great long time (longer than I have been  home in 4-5 years!) to sit and think about moving on and learning and coming to a better place.

From here, will come the story of how I am where I am based on the odd ways to discover things! Please stick around.  🙂 Peace to you all!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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A Special Retreat

When I left to go make my TEC retreat as a TECite, I had no idea what to expect.  For those who don’t know, TEC stands for Together (or Teens) Encountering Christ.  It is a three day retreat focused on the Paschal Mystery.  When the bus pulled up and we got out, we were all greeted by people in bright colored shirts.  On top of that, there were two team members that were rollerskating around the main room dressed in full panda suits.   A couple of us looked at each other, and almost ran the other direction, but something about it was so exciting!  Not the point, yet very fun information.

The first day of a TEC retreat is called Die Day.  As depressing as it may sound, it is so very powerful.  Let Go and Let God is the common phrase we start to hear, followed by Don’t Anticipate, Participate!  We went through reconciliation, which was so good.

The second day is Rise Day.  At this particular TEC, we were woken up with banging pots and pans.  Pretty much can guarantee you that I was definitely startled.  It was such a good day.  We had mass, a special dinner, and an awesome ceremony.  I loved it.

The third day is Go Day.  Basic idea is going into the word and sharing the love of Christ.  By this point, we all know each other better and it is really good to just hang out.

All through the weekend, there were various talks that were given by team members.  The random surprises throughout the weekend were great too!  There was a community that I felt there that has stuck with me for a very long time.  Out of all the TECs that occurred in my four years at Saint Mary’s, I only missed one because of a band concert.  I truely believe that this retreat that I made and then worked numerous times, was the source of the growing passion within me.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Retreat Experience

 

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I have to pick a major, really?

Environmental biology, what in the world was running through my head!?  Did I not recall that in high school my favorite science was pyhsics, followed by chemistry, and lastly was biology?  Nevermind that, my first semester I was in Botony and Zoology, botzo as we would call it.  My grade in botzo started good, and then kind of took a dive.  When the failign grade was all I was getting, I took that into consideration that maybe this was not my calling.  Withdrawn from the class, I began to search out my next attempt at life.

As I went in and out of that book of majors and the requirements for each of them, about nothing stood out to me.  Mind you, that is not much of an exaggeration.  I thought about that pyhsics I loved, but what in the world am I going to do with that.  Music was a fine idea, until I realized I am terrified of performing in from of people…alone.  I worked at a camp, what about teaching?  Oh yeah, boxed in spaces plus pent up camp energy, no way.  Now theatre, what a way to be creative!  Wait, acting…desgining…managing…remember that fear of performing, scratch that.  I love helping people out, human services would be great except one thing; there are too many things I am dealing with, how can I be sane for others?  Business, no; marketing, no; chemistry, no; sports stuff, no; there was nothing I thought I could fesibly do, and get decent grades.

Hold on, I am forgeting something aren’t I?  There was that theology minor I was goign to do, out of pure interest only.  I did not get much out of my youth group growing up and all I wanted to do was find out what was behind this faith I believed in.  I thought for a while, maybe my failing botzo was God smacking me over the head with a few huge large F‘s so that I would change my path.  It hurt, sure, but maybe something had to be done.

It took many more looks through the book of majors before I decided that maybe, just maybe this was the major for me.  Not to mention how easy the switch would be.  My at the time advisor was the head of the Theology department, so all the signatures for switching around declaring my major were found in one office.  Second semester sophmore year, my degree goal was set.  I was to be a Pastoral and Youth Ministry Major, a PYM for my college career, but why?  Well…the decision was made easier when I made this very special retreat November 2005, first semester freshman year.  My eyes were opened further and I gained a new love.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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What College Should I Attend!?

Let me tell you how they waited and asked and poked and prodded, it went on and on!  St. Bens, no wait…Saint Mary’s, but hold on, what about this and what about that…one second, then there is, oh dear.  One day in math class, a friend of mine just gave up on listening to me ramble about this and that having everything to do with what college to attend.

“Ashley,” she exclaimed, “listen to yourself already, you know where you are going!”  “I do?” I responded quite puzzled.  “Yes, you spend most the time talking about Saint Mary’s University, you are going there.  Now stop talking about it!”

Of course, some variation of that conversation might be more true.  My friend was right, I needed to listen to myself just a little more and there in me was the answer.  If only the world had such wisdom, but i digress slightly.  Saint Mary’s it was and in went my confirmation that yes, I was going to be attending my undergraduate with them.  Oh was I excited, as long as I could be back for that confirmation that was happening at the end of freshman year, all was sealed and set.  Off to school I went to study that Environmental Biology, work in the state/national parks systems, be outside, and oh it was to be grand!  Wait a moment, environmental biology, right?  There must be a mistake in that logic somewhere…

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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