A lot happens in one year.
As I look back on this Year of Faith I can hardly believe Jesus managed to fit so many blessings into one short year. I celebrated my grandparents' 55th anniversary with my entire family in Mexico, I helped re-start an awesome student-run Catholic organization at my university, I helped develop and lead a retreat all about the Eucharist, I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary, I made a pilgrimage to Italy and France, I saw Pope Francis, I attended a private Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Cardinal Turkson, I prayed with St. Thérèse at her tomb in Lisieux, and I encountered the great St. Francis and St. Clare as I found myself in the breath-taking hills of Assisi.
This Year of Faith has been a total whirlwind, taking so many unexpected turns! The Holy Spirit has truly led me to places I never imagined were possible. When Pope Benedict XVI declared this to be the Year of Faith I had no idea just how much my faith would end up growing, changing, and directing me. Turns out, the Church’s universal Year of Faith coincided with a pretty significant year in my faith. And it all climaxed in Assisi.
Like I said before, I discovered who I am called to be in the ancient and tiny village that rests on the top of a lush green mountain—Assisi. I’ve known for a while now that I have an innately Franciscan heart but it took walking the same rugged streets that St. Francis walked for it to reverberate deeply within my soul. I am indubitably Franciscan. However, I never expected my attraction to St. Francis’s charism to lead me to hear the Lord inviting me to consider the life of a cloistered Poor Clare. And yet this is exactly what happened as I prayed before the San Damiano Cross, the very same one St. Francis was praying before when he heard his calling.
And so the fruits of my Year of Faith truly began to culminate. Ever since that day in May I have been praying fervently for my vocation, incessantly asking the Lord if this is what He wants of me. I fall desperately in love with Him more each day as He patiently shows me the path He is paving. So far Jesus has asked me to graduate early and leave my beloved University of Dayton and discern with the Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Fort Wayne, IN. However the future is still completely unclear.
The end of the Year of Faith marks an entirely new beginning for me. As I graduate this December, move back home and close the college chapter in my life, I will continue to seek out the Lord’s will for me and explore the possibility of a religious vocation as I grow in my faith. I still don’t know if Jesus is calling me to be His bride, but my faith has taught me that He is definitely calling me to be His.
- Flower Ortega, University of Dayton, OH