By Sister Mary Catherine Kasuboski, TOR ’93
It was early February of 2021 when I received a phone call from one of my Franciscan TOR sisters who is serving on our leadership team. Our new assignments for the fall were being decided, and I was asked to go to Austria. I was nearly speechless. Year after year, I had watched other sisters be assigned to our house in Austria until I finally surrendered nearly all hope of ever being assigned there myself. It wasn’t long after I said yes to the assignment that I realized that except for a short visit to Austria in 2014, this would be my first time back in Gaming since I was there 30 years ago as a student! Then I started putting things together in my mind.
In 1988, I came to Franciscan University, majoring in English and Spanish with secondary education certification. Although I found my studies very challenging, I enjoyed them and came to appreciate and love my professors. I hoped to find a good Catholic husband to go along with my degree. However, not long into my first year, Jesus began to gently prod me in my prayer to consider the religious life. I put him off until May, and then finally gave in by telling him, “OK, I’ll just think about it.” I spent the next three years thinking and praying about it, making friends with religious sisters and other young women who were discerning.
On August 11, 1991, while standing on the plaza outside of Christ the King Chapel, I was talking with a friend after attending a first profession ceremony of the Franciscan Sisters TOR. She told me she had started a 30-day novena to St. Joseph for direction in her vocation. Both of us had come to a similar place in our discernment in which we felt almost an equal attraction to religious life and marriage, and we both just needed a little nudge from the Lord in the right direction. I successfully sought out a copy of this novena and began praying it the next day.
The first two weeks of praying the novena were spent at home getting ready to leave for Franciscan University’s newly established study abroad program in Gaming, Austria. The last two weeks were spent adjusting to the Austrian adventure. Our chaplain soon began to offer a time of adoration in the Sacred Heart Chapel every evening after dinner. Almost in spite of myself, I was drawn to the chapel for those times of prayer, and it was there that I finished my novena to St. Joseph. I felt sure St. Joseph would obtain an answer to my prayers, and I waited with expectant faith. On the day I finished the novena, I turned to Jesus with great trust that he would answer my prayer, and after helping me see my heart’s deepest desire, Jesus invited me to be his bride, and I was filled with great joy and peace and the grace to say yes! I was so charmed by living and studying at the Kartause, and I almost dared to wonder for a second or two what it might be like to live here again as a sister and serve the students, believing, of course, that it was only a dream, and it probably wouldn’t happen.
For almost 20 of the 30 years since I discerned my vocation, I’ve had the joy of serving at Franciscan University as a Franciscan Sister TOR as a residence hall chaplain on main campus, coordinating the Born of the Spirit Retreat, or involved with household life in some way. Until I got that phone call in February, I had convinced myself that I would probably remain on main campus for at least another year.
Then I realized the fall of 2021 was exactly 30 years after the fall of 1991 when I prayed that 30-day novena to St. Joseph for direction in my vocation. Now, in the Year of St. Joseph, I’ve returned here as a sister to fulfill my improbable dream of living here again and serving the students. Who could orchestrate things like that so perfectly besides God and St. Joseph? And how romantic of my Divine Spouse to give me a “dream come true” assignment for the 30th anniversary of my initial yes to him!
Sister Mary Catherine Kasuboski, TOR, ’93