Thursday, July 17, 2008

Affiliate Heather Foltz's Vocation Story

My Journey to Our Lady of Grace Monastery began with an invitation. In fact, most of the significant moments on my journey have been the result of an invitation and the courage within to accept. The invitations that each of us receive on our journey often reminds me of Jesus calling his disciples and the courage that they had to leave the lives that they had been living to follow Him with all that they were.

I am the middle child of Paul and Christie Foltz. I was born on June 17, 1983. I have an older sister, Holly, who is a chef and a younger sister, Hilary, who is studying elementary education at the University of Indianapolis. I grew up in Dyer, IN, which is near Chicago.  I grew up in the United Methodist Church and faithfully attended church every Sunday with not only my immediate family, but also my extended family. The seeds of my faith and the foundation of who I am today are the result of my parents and my grandma Foltz. They taught me to seek God and to be faithful to who God is calling me to be.

The first invitation that changed my life was an invitation by my youth minister the summer before my junior year of high school. He invited my younger sister and me to attend a summer mission trip to Nashville Tennessee. It was on this mission trip that I had my first opportunity to work with the homeless. It was here that I realized that God had given me the passion and the gifts to serve the poor. I returned to my life back home forever changed and open to receiving my second invitation.

My second invitation came from my senior pastor and it was an invitation to apply to the University of Indianapolis to study theology. I was interested and filled out the application and was accepted. I thought maybe that I could serve the poor through ministry in the Methodist Church. In August of 2002, I began my college experience at the University of Indianapolis.

My experience at the University of Indianapolis provided many invitations to grow, change, and seek God. In my sophomore year of college, I met for the first time Sr. Jennifer Horner, OSB. Sr. Jennifer was my Christian vocations and formation Professor. My instruction by Sr. Jennifer changed my life. She taught us about Spiritual practices and about turning our desires to live our life for God into actions. She nourished the seeds that my parents planted and helped grow my faith into what it is today. She also invited me to prayer and to visit the prison with some of her Benedictine Sisters. January of 2004 was the first time that I attended prayer at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. I felt at home. I loved the way in which they prayed the psalms and wanted to return again, which I did many times over the next four years.

My next significant invitation was from another individual from the chaplain’s office, Micah Weedman. He invited me to apply to live in the Intentional Christian Community that they were forming on Campus for the following year. I began dialoguing with him about what it meant to live in community and seek God together. In the fall of 2004, I began living in community with three other individuals on campus. I lived there until I graduated in spring of 2006. We lived under a common rule of life, which included prayer, work, and community commitments. It was here that I was challenged to grow and seek God in new ways. It was in this community that God planted the desire within me to live my life in community. It was also in community that I began to develop deep friendships that help hold me accountable to being the person that God is calling me to be.

While living in community, I was first invited to attend mass. I went one Sunday evening to mass on campus and I fell in love almost instantly with the liturgy. I spent the next two years attending a Methodist service in the morning and Mass on campus at night. In my senior year of college I felt that I needed to make a choice. I realized that God was calling me to live out my Christian faith within the Catholic Church. After Graduation, I joined RCIA and was confirmed a Catholic on Easter 2007.

I graduated college in May of 2006 and began working at Horizon House, a homeless day center in downtown Indianapolis. I currently serve as the employment placement coordinator. I am responsible for all of the activities that take place in our employment center. I teach job readiness classes and provide employment placement counseling to our homeless neighbors. I love working with the homeless and I am thankful that God has given me the gifts and passion to serve them.

Since graduation, I have continued to visit the monastery on a regular basis. At first when my friends and family asked if I was thinking about becoming a sister, I adamantly would tell them that I just liked visiting the monastery. But God had a couple more invitations in store for me, which has led me to where I am today. In the fall of 2007, Sr. Nicolette gave me a brochure to attend one of the vocation retreats and asked me to read it. I believe that I responded that I enjoyed reading. After reading the brochure, I knew that God was calling me to discern further whether or not I have a monastic vocation, but I was still unsure.

A few weeks later, I was on vacation with my family in Florida. We were talking about relationships and I hadn’t really told my parents yet what I had been considering. I remember I said something about well you know my future plan has always included a husband and four kids. My dad responded with well maybe God has something different planned for your future and that I should remain open to other possibilities in my life. My dad’s words spoke to me and invited me from that point on to be fully open to listening and discerning where God was calling me. I attended the vocations retreat in February of 2008. I realized on the retreat that God had given me the gifts to successfully live life in community as a Benedictine Sister. Although I still have a lot to learn about what it means to live out my life as a Benedictine Sister. I also realized that over the past few years of visiting that I had already fallen in love with a particular Benedictine Community. Shortly after the retreat, I requested to begin the process to become an affiliate of the Sisters of Saint Benedict.

On June 19, 2008, I began my Benedictine Journey as an affiliate of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. It is with great joy that I am continuing to seek God and discern more seriously my monastic vocation with such a wonderful group of women. I also look forward to the many invitations and the many lessons that God has in store for me in the years to come.

(The picture above was taken the evening Heather became an Affiliate.  She is being handed The Benedictine Handbook by our Prioress, Sr. Carol Falkner.  Our community continues to be blest with happy, holy and healthy women in search of God in this monastic way of life.  Please continue to pray for Heather and all who seek to do God's will on a daily basis.)  

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