I have a bit of an announcement to make… After about 6 years of prayer, spiritual direction, and discernment I have (finally) decided to respond to the Lord’s invitation to become His spouse as a religious sister with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (Servidoras)! I am all ready to set an entrance date and begin formation as the Lord’s servant (no pun intended), but I have one more stumbling block to overcome… After receiving and amazing undergraduate education at Franciscan University of Steubenville (class of 2017) and experiencing a semester of growth at Regent University (graduate school), I have quite a large sum of student loans.
On November 30, 2017, I submitted an application to Mater Ecclesiae Fund for vocations. Mater Ecclesiae is an organization that provides grants to men and women who wish to enter religious life, but are hindered by student loans. I waited 3 1/2 long months before I received their decision regarding my application and on March 16, 2018 I received news that I will not receive a grant this year. The foundation encouraged me to continue paying off my loans and reapply next year, but I am now faced with the reality that I might have to wait another year (at least) before I can enter religious life. The more I can decrease my loans before next March, the better chance I have of receiving a grant from Mater Eccelesiae next award cycle. It would be one of the most beautiful gifts I ever receive if, through your generosity, I am able to pay off my loans and respond to the Lord's call in less than a year. This is where your help is necessary.
If you are not familiar with religious life you might be thinking, ‘yeah, most new graduates have a ton of loans,’ so let me explain. When a young woman enters a religious community she takes vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The vow of poverty means that I will give up all of my personal possessions and I will not make any money for work that I do (similar to a missionary). I will be living my life in total service to the Catholic Church through prayer, sacrifice, and service to those most in need (of all faith backgrounds). Since I will take this vow of poverty, all of my loans must be paid off before I can enter religious life. Just to give you a small idea of what this would feel like… Imagine if you have found the love of your life, but you cannot even get engaged to that person (let alone married) until ALL of your student loans are paid off. Seriously, think about it…that is very similar to what I am facing right now. With this in mind, I am asking for your support in paying off my loans.
I have a little over $53,000 total to pay off and my goal for this GoFundMe is at least $10,000. I know many of you are also recent graduates and have your own loans to worry about, but if each of you gave as little as $20, I would exceed my $10,000 goal. Just imagine if you all shared this with your friends, I could greatly exceed my goal and be able to respond to the Lord’s call even sooner. If you cannot support me monetarily at this time, please keep me in your prayers!
To learn more about the Servants of the Lord and religious life follow this link: http://ssvmusa.org/. Please feel free to contact me over Facebook messenger if you have any questions or would like to speak with me about any aspects of my vocation or fundraising. Please know that I am praying for all of you and your intentions, especially as we finish this Lenten season and head into the joy of Easter! God bless.
Brief Vocation Story
In the summer of 2012, I attended a retreat with a religious order in Massachusetts. This was my first real encounter with religious sisters. Several other girls and I spent a few days living with the sisters at the convent: praying, eating, and serving with them. At one point during the retreat, Mother gave a short talk regarding religious vocations. During this talk, she mentioned that a saint once said that one in every three women has a religious vocation, but many do not respond to the invitation. As I looked around the table, I realized that there were six of us and I experienced an overwhelming sense that I was being called to be a religious sister. I was almost brought to tears at the thought (I think tears of fear at that point. Haha). Right after this talk, Mother showed us a video of sisters receiving a religious habit and I was again almost brought to tears. I spoke with one sister and Mother about what I was feeling, but after the retreat I did not respond to the call with action (only prayer).
The following summer, 2013, I attended a diocesan discernment retreat for high school girls where I spoke to a priest and several religious sisters about what I experienced the summer before at the convent. This is where I met the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (Servidoras), the religious order I now desire to enter. That August I began studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville. This was a beautiful place to continue my discernment because I had the opportunity to attend daily Mass, weekly adoration, frequent confession, and periodic spiritual direction.
During college I kept in touch with the Servants of the Lord and whenever I visited other orders I always compared them to the Servidoras. I often visited the Servants of the Lord during college breaks, and in the summer of 2015 I lived at the Servidoras’ Juniorate House of Studies in Washington D.C. every Wednesday-Friday. I was participating in a volunteer opportunity at a hospital in D.C. and Mother gave me permission to live with them and experience their life when I was not at work. This was a wonderful opportunity to compare the life of living in the professional world to the life of a religious sister and going into my junior year of college I had decided to enter after I graduated. The next summer, 2016, I attended World Youth Day with the Servidoras, which increased my desire to enter their order. After the pilgrimage, I again allowed fear and doubt to get in the way and upon finishing my senior year of college, I decided to attend graduate school.
One week before I left for graduate school I was speaking to a friend I have known for 10 years. I told her about religious life and my decision to attend graduate school and she said something that rang through my mind the entire semester… “Sarah, it sounds like you are trying all of the things you don’t want to do to make sure you don’t want to do them instead of trying the one thing you want to do…” I told the Lord that if I was going to attend graduate school I would need His help. I told Him that I needed Catholic friends, the opportunity to attend daily Mass, good classmates, a nice roommate, and good grades. The Lord gave me all of that, but there was still something missing.
The Lord allowed me to choose graduate school to show me that I will never be satisfied with the world. I can receive straight A’s and be told that I am a natural counselor, have good friends, and attend Mass every day, but if I do not give my heart totally to the One it was made for there will always be a lack in my life. I realized this very quickly after I began gradute school and I asked permission to apply to the Servants of the Lord on September 15, 2017, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. After a 6-year process, I am ready to respond to the Lord’s proposal with a resounding yes and begin to process to become His Bride.
My future house of formation
2016 World Youth Day pilgrimage
Several other pictures of the Servidoras
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