By Sister Patricia Radek, M.S., diocesan archivist
My vocation story begins at the time I was 12. It was that summer, during a week when one of my sisters was home on vacation, that the Holy Spirit began to move in my life. Out of the blue one day she said to me, “You’d make a beautiful Sister someday, Pat!” Then she read Matt. 6: 25-34 to me, and it seemed to speak to my heart. The seed was planted.
I remember one certain Saturday during my junior high years. I was going to go shopping with my mom. It really started out like all the usual Saturday afternoons. When we got downtown, though, I suddenly had a strong desire to go visit our church which was just two blocks from main street in Geneva. When I went inside, it was dark and empty. I walked up to the middle of the church, sat down in one of the pews, and just stared at the sanctuary lamp and the tabernacle for quite a while.
Out of the stillness, I heard myself saying rather loudly, “I know you are there, I know you are God, and I know that I love you.” I then left and walked back to find my mom in one of the stores. As I was walking downtown, I thought to myself, “I actually just talked to God, no formal prayer, but from somewhere deep within.” It was definitely a “WOW” moment.
My high school years passed quickly, and I was making plans for my life: I would attend the Kansas City Art Institute with an emphasis on interior design, marry a very good Catholic man, and have 10 children.
It was now my senior year, and at this time I had two older siblings who were already Marian Sisters. We used to travel to Waverly once a month to see them on Visiting Sunday. On one of these visits, I recall very clearly looking back as we were driving away and saying, “It’s so strange, but I feel like I’m at home and belong here.” Mom and Dad got very quiet in the car.
I dismissed the idea and again focused on my plans. At the end of my senior year, my sister, Sr. Monica, asked me to help her teach CCD with the other Sisters for a week. The first excuse that I gave was to say, “I know what you’re trying to do, and two nuns in the family are enough!”
My second excuse was a solid one. I never thought I was good enough to be a Sister, and the words of my Dad cemented that when he said one day, “You sure aren’t like the other two.” He was referring to my older siblings, Sr. Bernadette and Sr. Monica. Of course I agreed with him and gave my sister a “no” to her invitation.
After graduation, I decided I needed to get some money put away for the Art Institute. I heard about an opening for a one-year position as a kindergarten aide at our public grade school. I applied and got the job. At the end of the school year, I was set to begin a new job in July as an aide in our county hospital. During that summer, while waiting for my new job to begin, Sr. Monica once again asked me to come and help teach CCD. This time with nothing to lose, I thought, I agreed to come for a week.
It was during this week that the Holy Spirit moved in a very powerful way. Within days, my plans completely evaporated. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord wanted me to give Him my future and my heart. It was such a moving experience that at the end of the week when I had to leave, I cried all the way home.
What happened inside my heart was so transforming that it was visible on the outside as well. When I got home, my Dad took one look at me and said, “Be sure Mom is sitting when you tell her.” I said, “Tell her what?” He answered, “Oh, you know what!”
Still a teenager, I entered the Marian Sisters two months later in August. That was 38 years ago. The Lord and I have been through all the normal ups and downs of life during those years. I can say those same words today as I said in junior high, only with more conviction… “I know you are there, I know you are God, and I know that I love you.” All I can add to that is heart-felt gratitude for a very blessed and wonderful life.
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