Sister Karen Gaube, CSJ
According to Father Anthony Gittens in his book, Called to Be Sent, there are three common elements for becoming a disciple. They are: the call from God or encounter with Jesus; a sense of disturbance over our own unworthiness to be a disciple; and personal transformation through our willingness to be sent forth as a disciple. As I reflected on my own call to become a Sister of St. Joseph, I found that I could identify with these three stages.
God's call to me had been like a whisper for some time. The Sisters who had taught me in grade school and high school (the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet) often encouraged us girls to think about a religious vocation as a Sister. My response was always to ignore or resist the invitation, wanting to be like my other friends, looking forward to going away to college, enjoying a good social life, getting married and having children. Then toward the end of my freshman year in college, God's whispered call through others suddenly became a more distinct invitation from God himself. During a retreat weekend at my college, when I came upon the Ursuline Sisters praying in our college chapel, I began to feel drawn to a life of prayer and service. Suddenly, although, I heard no words, I realized that God himself was guiding me to follow him along a new path.
Nevertheless, my reaction was filled with disturbance as I struggled with many questions. Why me? Others of my friends would be much better suited. Who am I to think that God is calling me to this way of life? How can I tell my parents who had sacrificed to send me to this good college when they had four more children coming up behind me? Will I have wasted a year's tuition, board and room if I only completed one year? How can I tell my roommate that I won't be returning next year to be her roommate? How do I go about inquiring to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph who had taught me for twelve years? They were in Binghamton, and I was away in school near New York City. Gradually, my disturbed feelings subsided, and my questions that had filled me with anxiety were rather easily answered.
Almost overnight I had moved from being disturbed by this call to a willingness to respond positively, to a "yes" that felt right because I knew that not only was this God's will for me, but, finally, I knew that it was what I wanted, too.
Now, more than 50 years after that late April day in l960, my call to discipleship, thanks to God's grace, is one I have never doubted or regretted, once I listened and heard it. There have been peaks and valleys, joys and sorrows, as in every disciple's life. But I can still echo with Isaiah, "Here I am, send me," and with St. Paul, "I am the least of the apostles, but by the grace of God, I am what I am," and still hear Jesus' words so often, "Do not be afraid."