Monday, August 1, 2005

My friend, a CFR sister

About three years ago, I met a girl named Kirsten Holum from Denver, Colorado. She and I walked with Crossroads during the summer of 2002. After that walk, I did not keep up with my fellow walkers as well as I would have liked, and always appreciated the sporadic updates from those who happened to know each of the walkers. (I still enjoy these updates!)

Kirsten impressed me as an absolutely fascinating young woman. Her mother was a single mom, though I do not remember most of the details surrounding her childhood. She is an avid and very talented photographer, and has an energetic personality and a laugh and smile that are contagious. She is passionate and devout. She also represented the US Olympics Speed Skating team in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, placing sixth in the 3000-meter race.

She grew up as a firm pro-life supporter along with her mother, and frequently prayed the Rosary outside of the abortion clinic in Denver. It was the bold "PRO-LIFE" t-shirt that attracted Kirsten to Crossroads. Yet, God had such a deeper plan for her life, beginning with a long walk across the United States.

Our walk officially ended in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for World Youth Day and it was at that time that Kirsten first heard about the CFR's. I remember she came back to our camp with a bookmark with a prayer and a curiosity about this newly-formed order of sisters.

Fast-forward three years to yesterday. I attending the final profession of vows for 5 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Yonkers, and while waiting for Mass to start, from across St. John the Baptist Church, I saw Kirsten whispering excitedly with a woman clad in a teal shirt with a nice camera perched in her hands.

There Kirsten was, clad in a gray habit with a white veil covering her hair. Contacts replaced with glasses; no makeup on her face; her smile was more bright than I had remembered it! Joy radiated from her like a newlywed, and a newlywed she truly is: newly wedded to Christ. My friend Kirsten is now Sister Catherine!

After the Mass of the profession, I headed to the basement for a "nature break," thinking in the back of my head that I would need to find her somewhere in the maze of what must have been at least 700 people. But, God knew how hard that would be, and HE placed her three people in front of me in line! She glanced over, and mid-sentence erupted in joy as we embraced! It was truly a reunion! I couldn't help but think how the apostles must have felt in greeting each other as friends in our Lord Jesus Christ during the early years of Christianity.

Among our catching up, Sr. Catherine informed me that another one of our Crossroads walkers, Katie Wallyn, is now discerning with the CFR's. Katie and I had been close during a few years of college, but drifted away during the latter years. What joy it brought me to her of her devotion and dedication!

At the profession were sisters and priests from at least 15 different orders and dioceses. Among the others that attended were families with many, many children. There were young people; there were old people. There were people from every race. There were people with disabilities. There were people who spoke different languages. It was a truly 'catholic' affair.

It is hard to describe the jealousy I feel in my heart for the sisters. A Godly jealousy, of course. To see and talk to young women and men living a call to abandon themselves so faithfully to God's work for the sake of saving souls. This one experience has caused me to more passionately and intently examine my own vocation, to analyze the state of my own soul and life. Would I be willing to forsake the prospect of marriage and family for the sake of the work of the Lord, the will of God? Would I be willing to abandon all for the sake of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience? Would I be willing to abandon my life to Christ so to achieve that everlasting reward of heaven?

I thank the good Lord for His faithfulness, for the witness of Sr. Catherine and all of the other sisters, brothers, deacons and priests who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly and selflessly to this most admirable call of God.

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