Katie Anders, BVM (l.) and Director of Initial Membership Colleen McGinnity, BVM celebrate during the reception ceremony in the Mary Frances Clarke Chapel.
by Kari Litscher
Katie Anders thought about religious life as a child beginning around age 12. During her college years, she spoke to the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about being called to a vowed life. Though she decided not to pursue it at that time, “the seed has always been there,” Katie says.
Katie felt many “calls” in her life. She knew she wanted to be a teacher and to serve Christ. When she fell in love, she knew she wanted to be a wife and mother. “That was the path I chose . . . I continued to serve God, just in different ways . . . as a wife and a mom . . . I worked for the Church for more than 20 years . . . I was a BVM associate . . . I was living the God/Community-connection in another way.”
Over the years that Katie worked at Mount Carmel, sisters would tell her, “You’d make a great BVM.” She says she would laugh and reply, “Yeah, maybe in my next life!” That “next life” is now.
After serving as the Sisters of Charity spiritual care coordinator, working with and among the BVMs for the last six years, Katie’s desire for vocational life rekindled. She says, “The charism of the community really resonates with me.”
Now single and with her adult children Alex and Lauryn no longer living at home, the call seems to “ring” more loudly and more clearly.
Not My Will, But Yours Be Done
Answering God’s call in your life—one could assert—is vastly different from planning your next steps. A call, that internal pull toward something you feel God is personally inviting you to, is as unique as your own fingerprint. It may also require you to lay down a life that you’ve known and loved. It is a complete surrender to God’s will. Specifically designed. Specifically timed.
Katie chose to answer the call . . . at this moment. . . for such a time as this. Katie decided to enter the BVM community and tenderly discussed the idea with her children. In full reassurance of her decision, both expressed their love and full support. “This just seems like the most natural thing for you, Mom,” her son Alex confirmed.
The Next Life
On March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, Katie became a BVM candidate. On Aug. 15, Katie was welcomed into the BVM community as a novice. Director of Initial Membership Colleen (Rose Maureen) McGinnity, BVM presented Katie as a candidate during a special reception ceremony held in the Mary Frances Clarke Chapel at Mount Carmel Bluffs (MCB) in Dubuque, Iowa.
During the reception, BVM President LaDonna Manternach asked, “Katie, as Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are women who have been touched by God’s steadfast love. In response to that love, we are moved to commit ourselves to a vowed life of faithfulness to God, faithfulness to one another in community, and faithfulness to God’s people, especially the poor. Do you desire to join us in our mission?” Katie’s response was succinct, “Yes, I do.” Katie was then invited to sign the Book of Reception and was welcomed with a chapel full of applause.
A few days later, Katie moved to Chicago to participate in the InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate (ICCN), a formation program of the Religious Formation Conference. She will spend the next 10 months— her Canonical year—“fulfilling the requirements of Rome.” She will take
classes at Catholic Theological Union and dedicate herself to reflection, prayer, discernment, and service. Katie is looking forward to living in
community with the other novices in the program. She is also excited about being in a more diverse city and for the adventures and experiences she will have there.
Once the Canonical year is complete, Katie will return to MCB to complete the final year of her novitiate—her Apostolic year—where she will engage in ministry, live in community with BVMs, and dedicate herself to personal and communal prayer as she discerns becoming a vowed
member of the community.
Katie shares, “I continue to be amazed by the love and support I experience from sisters and associates. During my reception ceremony, I felt so connected to everyone present with me in the chapel as well as to all the BVMs and associates who have gone before me.
“The sense of belonging I experienced in that moment was overwhelming and was exactly what I needed as I prepared to move to Chicago. I miss being at MCB very much, but I carry that connection deep in my being and am grateful to God every day for this community and for this new adventure I have embarked on.”
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