Infused with grace: Sister Kimberly begins novitiate

 

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Infused with grace: Sister Kimberly begins novitiate

 

By Gene Fadness
Editor

COEUR D’ALENE -- Looking back on her life, Sister Kimberly Page may not be at all surprised that the religious order she formally enters on Sept. 8 has “grace” in its name. 

When she enters into the novitiate for the Sisters of Divine Grace during an investiture at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Coeur d’Alene on Sept. 8, it will be an initial step toward professing final vows, but it is also a final step of sorts: the arrival at a destination long sought. Sister Kimberly, 53, is home. The journey home has spanned decades, but it is one filled with grace.

Grace that caused her to believe firmly in God even though she grew up in an agnostic home. Grace that compelled into learning more about

Jesus, who she had heard little about in her Jewish neighborhood in suburban Boston. Grace that prompted her to continue searching for that something else that she detected missing from the Presbyterian Church she had joined and the other Protestant denominations she visited. Grace that caused her to immediately recognize what was missing when a friend invited her to a Catholic Mass. Grace when, after hearing her confession, an Idaho priest, who didn’t even know she was discerning religious life, directed her as her “penance” to investigate the Sisters of Divine Grace. And, finally, a grace that prompted her to respond with openness to the invitations she was sensing, even to the point of giving up a six-figure salary, a successful career at UC-Berkeley and a home in the Bay Area to return to Idaho, live in community with religious Sisters, and work part-time as a parish office manager.

“Today, I feel total peace and joy even in the midst of all the changes,” she said. “It’s an interior journey, so it’s hard to put words into it, but I know I’m at peace. It’s like when you have a tuning fork and it is resonating with something bigger. Fundamentally, in my core, I know who I am and whose I am.” 

After the investiture, Sister Kimberly begins a two-year period of devoting even more time to study and prayer “and withdrawal from the world to more intentionally explore this vocation,” she said. After those two years, she would make her First Profession of Vows and then, three years later, her Final Vows.  

She will continue to serve as office manager at St. Thomas, which has been supportive of her discernment. “Father John (Mosier) is very accepting and understanding and willing to work with me,” she said. “He knows I’m a Sister first and an employee second.” The office staff she supervises is also encouraging. “I’m very grateful to be at St. Thomas the Apostle. I work with amazing, dedicated, Spirit-filled people. Christ is the center of all that we do.” 

Sister Kimberly (who will take on a new name at her investiture) was raised in Newton, Mass., a suburb of Boston. Her parents were not church-goers, but she always believed in God. “I not only believed in God, but I loved God and always wanted to be devoted to God.”  

She has since learned, especially in her involvement with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd instructional program for children, that children have a “natural affinity and connection to God,” even though many, like she, may not be raised in religious homes. “I later learned that I was not that unique. Children are open, and have a sense of the mystical.” 

While she believed in God, she knew very little about Jesus. Growing up in a Jewish neighborhood, “Jesus wasn’t in my orbit. There was no discussion of him by anybody.” When she was 15, a friend invited to a Young Life meeting, an evangelical Christian group. The leader read from the gospels about Jesus healing lepers. “I was so struck by that; I just fell in love with Jesus, I don’t know how else to put it. Who is this Jesus who would walk toward the lepers when everyone was running away? What kind of love is this?” 

Following that, she “plunged” into studies about Jesus, mainly by attending Bible studies at the local Presbyterian church, the only Christian church within walking distance of her home. She was baptized there. Her parents were a bit bemused by her newfound faith, but supportive. “They figured there were worse things I could be involved in.” 

After graduating high school, she was accepted into Bowdoin College, a prestigious, private liberal arts and sciences college in Brunswick, Maine. “It was an intense, highly driven academic environment and very isolated geographically. It gave me an amazing opportunity to really dig into Christianity.” 

Her exploration led her to what she calls “climbing the ladders” of the Protestant faiths, exploring, but never joining the less liturgically minded evangelical faiths, to Lutheranism and then the Episcopal faith, but always going away feeling something amiss. 

She graduated from college in 1988 with a degree in history and later married a man who was stationed in the Navy. His career took them to San Diego. She got a job at San Diego State University, helping to secure grants for the university’s researchers. Her faith journey continued there, taking a dramatic turn when her boss, a Catholic, invited her to a Mass at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, California’s first mission founded by St. Junipero Serra. 

But what struck her more than the storied history of the Basilica, was the reverence of those at the Mass. “I saw people displaying so much reverence for the Eucharist and for the Tabernacle. I asked my friend about it and she explained to me the Real Presence.”

That moment was not unlike that first experience when she was 15, when the Bible teacher related the story of Jesus healing the leper. “When the Real Presence was explained, I knew that that was what had been missing, and I wanted it. I wanted that beautiful unity with God, that gift of self to God and God to me. I asked her what I had to do to get that.” She signed up for RCIA that day. “Those nine months of waiting to receive the Eucharist was the longest nine months of my life.” She was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 2002. 

Not long after that, she and her husband moved to Idaho, to Wilderness Ranch near Idaho City where she chopped wood and drove an ATV to remove snow. She attended St. Joseph Church in Idaho City, but not with her husband who, although Catholic, wanted nothing to do with the Church. The two never really knew each other, she said, partly because he was on deployment during much of their 13 years of marriage. “Our marriage was not founded on truth, because we really didn’t know each other.”

After their divorce, she moved to Boise, where she has a twin sister. She accepted a job at Boise State in re-search administration, similar to what she was doing for San Diego State. Moving up in her career, she eventually returned to California, where she was invited to manage the grants and contracts office of the University of California at Berkeley.  

“That was the pinnacle of my career. Here I was at a top-tier research university, but it was so empty,” she said. “I tried to justify my job by telling myself that I was helping professors get grant money to make the world a better place, but I coming to realize that my idea of success was not working.” 

“The Lord sometimes takes everything away from us in order to help us find Him more deeply. Other times, as in my situation, He gives us everything we think we want and that helps us to realize that is not sufficient,” she said.  

It was that point, she said, that she started to meet “so many nuns out of the blue.” She had always felt what she describes as a “yearning and desire for religious life,” even when she was a Protestant. “I realized that nothing was going to make me happy other than doing His will. I was ready to give up doing things my way. I felt free and ready to give whatever I had to the Lord.” 

A first step was to move back to Boise in 2017 “to quiet my life down and really start to listen.” Her former boss helped secure another job at Boise State, while she investigated religious orders. She tried the Benedictine Sisters at the Monastery of St. Gertrude. “They were lovely and generous and patient with me,” but the fit wasn’t quite right. 

During Easter season 2019, she went to Confession with Father Bruno Segatta at the parish she was attending at the time, Our Lady of the Rosary. Father Bruno, she said, had no idea she was considering religious life. “He looked at me and said, ‘Are you discerning religious life?’ ” When she answered affirmatively, he told her penance would be to investigate the Sisters of Divine Grace, which, at the time, was based in Caldwell. After meeting Sister Sheila Cigich, she said, “I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I was willing to go to Africa if need be to be in the right place and here was an opportunity right in my backyard in Caldwell.” In December 2019, she became a postulant with Sisters of Divine Grace. 

She and Sister Sheila have since relocated to north Idaho, splitting their time between the rectories at St. Thomas the Apostle in Coeur d’Alene and at St. Alphonsus in Wallace. The pastors of each parish, Father John Mosier and Father Jerome Montez, OSB, will concelebrate the Mass during which the investiture will take place. 

Sister Kimberly has sold all her furniture and is selling her Boise condominium. “I have no security, but I am more joyful and grateful than I’ve ever been and feel richer than I ever have.” 

 

 

 

 
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