By Bernadette Prickel, Senior UMN
Being the obstinate woman I am, it took a great deal of time, a multitude of missionaries, and the Lord’s abounding grace to get me involved in Saint Paul’s Outreach. Prior to my re-conviction of my faith, I was pursuing a lifestyle that was far from fulfilling, one that was slowly chipping away at who I was as a daughter of Christ.
It was only fitting that last Fall I balked at the idea of living in Household for the following year, after a few of my missionary friends encouraged me to apply. The very idea of living in community with other Catholic women, ones who were fully committed to living for Christ, seemed illogical to me at the time. I gave a multitude of excuses for why it would not work, but in reality I was terrified of the idea of being called on to a higher standard 24/7. I knew I wanted a deeper relationship with the Lord, but the idea of giving up my ways of the world seemed too impossible at the time.
Flash-forward to the Spring, I was kicking myself for not having jumped at the opportunity to live with such incredible women for my senior year. After a powerful experience at a Fan into Flame retreat put on by Saint Paul’s Outreach, I had finally immersed myself in the community, and wanted to have a solid foundation for my senior year to better walk this path of holiness. However, my fear of committing to Household earlier in the year meant that I was already in a year-long lease with women who would not be holding me to the same standards.
While this seemed like a travesty at the time, God’s grace was once again at work in how events were to turn out. After reaching out to our women’s Mission Director, Kayla, I was given the unique opportunity to do Extended Household with one of the women’s Households this year. I no longer was going to have to trudge through my last year without a support system, but rather was gong to have a place that would soon feel like my home.
To say this has been one of the most impactful experiences in my life would be an incredible understatement. While I thought I would be entering one of the toughest semesters of my scholastic career, one filled with a heavy course load and a living situation that was disinclined to encourage a Catholic lifestyle, I was given a refuge in this community of women.
On a practical level, Extended Household has given me the opportunity to join in the daily Morning Prayer with the women, weekly dinners on Sunday, and an open house that has intrinsically become my home away from home. Moreover, this opportunity has meant that I have been welcomed into a nurturing environment, filled with intelligent, hilarious, and ultimately holy women. This group of women continually builds each other up and fosters incredible faith formation, something extremely rare to see in women friendships these days. These women began as strangers and soon became my beloved sisters. They are women who have helped my growth in my relationship with the Lord and have encouraged me to live in the freedom that is life for Him. From after breakfast discussions to exciting adventures around Minnesota, these women have been my emotional and spiritual support system, and my cohorts in spontaneous escapades.
The past year has introduced such an incredible community into my life, one that I am eternally grateful to the Lord for placing in my life. The fact that I have been able to partake in it through Extended Household has been a blessing I never could have foreseen. Though there was a lot of anxiety as I approached this daunting school year, one I knew would contain many trials, the Lord continued to take care of me and blessed me with seven incredible women who have truly captivated my heart.