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Many smaller ‘yeses’ lead to a larger ‘yes’ for Idaho missionary to join Dominican Order

The following story appeared in the April 30 Idaho Catholic Register.

Lucy Eggleston, center, with Sister Amata Christi, OP, left, and Sister Daniela, OP, of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. (Courtesy photo/Lucy Eggleston)

by Lucy Eggleston

for the Idaho Catholic Register

At the beginning of Creation, “Fiat Lux” (“Let there be light”) brought light into being. At the Annunciation, “Fiat mihi” (“Be it done in me”) allowed the Light of the World into the world. We are welcomed into the “yes” of Our Lady through our own little “yeses” that we give in response to the Father’s love. Only in the context of the Father’s love is my story intelligible.

As the second of six siblings growing up on the banks of the Snake River in the Lewiston-Clarkston area, I spent my childhood summers on the river, exploring our little creek, or “helping” with our hand-line irrigation system in the hay field.

Whether picking blackberries, raising 4-H pigs, or learning to guide pheasant hunters for the family business, my family could turn anything into an adventure. My siblings and I were blessed to have parents and grandparents striving to make Christ the center of our lives and family. We attended what is now All Saints Catholic Parish in Lewiston, where my sisters and I were active in the youth group, taught Sunday School, and began our own journeys with Jesus.

I attended the Idaho Catholic Youth Conference (ICYC) all four years of high school. It was during my sophomore year that I had a pretty big request heading into Adoration at ICYC. “Jesus, do you want me to be a nun?” For a few months leading up to ICYC, the thought had crossed my mind, and it was time to ask Him face to face. In response to my question that night, He looked at me. He looked at me! I knew it. I had been to Adoration often as a child, so this was not the awe of encountering Christ in the Eucharist for the first time, but something more tender, yet definitive. I realized that this was no guarantee of a vocation, but it was Jesus saying plainly and simply, “I love you.” Heading home, I figured future nuns probably do things like pray the Rosary. Thus, Our Lady took her place as the directress of my vocational discernment.

When I enrolled at Washington State University in Pullman, the Newman Center became my home away from home. There, I was blessed with an exuberant community, a wonderful chaplain, and an introduction to a good young man. A few months after meeting each other, we began dating, and ended up dating for two and a half years.

Despite continuing to check off all the boxes of being a “good Catholic” as a freshman and sophomore, the busyness of work and school and lack of authenticity in friendships were causing me to lose the relationship I had enjoyed with Jesus throughout my childhood years. I was also trying to hide my inner self from God. No longer was I saying, “Let it be done to me,” but “Let me do it.”

Nevertheless, I signed up for a spring break mission trip to New Mexico during my sophomore year of college. There I met a little boy who asked to be my best friend, and it was as if the Child Jesus Himself was looking up at me with those big eyes, asking me to once again to give Him access to my heart. What had been lost through my negligence, He more than made up for in calling me back during that mission trip into an honest relationship once again. A year later, when the Lord asked my boyfriend and me to end our relationship, we were able, through His grace, to surrender again to Him, trusting that His plan was ultimately better than any we could comprehend at the moment.

As I finished college, the Lord placed a call on my heart to serve Him through the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) as a campus missionary for two years. After giving Him my “yes,” to this call, He reawakened an older desire and call on my heart. Again, a series of trusting “yeses” were required as He started opening doors toward discerning religious life concretely.

As with any discernment, religious life cannot be discerned in the abstract. For example, one doesn’t generically discern marriage, but, rather, marriage to a specific person. The same is true for Religious life. One of the doors He was opening was a sense of direction for my discernment by placing the Domini-can order strongly on my heart. The more I learned about the order and its charism, the more it seemed I was meeting a part of my extended family that I did not know existed.

At a summer training for FOCUS missionaries, my interest was heightened by meeting four Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia who were among a number of Religious Sisters and Brothers invited by FOCUS for the formation of its staff.

I was blessed to savor every moment I shared with the Sisters, whether it was praying Compline (Evening Prayer), hiking in the Badlands, or sharing meals.

Lucy Eggleston with her family. From left, parents Rich and Shannon, Peter, Madeline, grandparents Keith and Carolyn Ausman, Lucy, Carmen, Reuben and Maria. Lucy Eggleston has been a missionary at Idaho State University with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and is now discerning Religious life with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Courtesy photo/Lucy Eggleston)

Shortly thereafter, and much to my surprise, several people suggested I consider the contemplative life, and suddenly another door was opened to a life of even deeper surrender to, and intimacy with, the Lord. I began writing letters to the Mother of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Post Falls, and visited their convent that fall. While there was a great serenity, and the Carmel was full of joyful women, and I wanted dearly to get a “yes” from Jesus regarding the community, there was something missing within myself that I could not name.

I ended up going on three “Come and See” retreats that academic year with other communities. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, leaving Nashville, the home of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, was like leaving family. Everything – from their devotion to Mary and her role in the Order, to the person of St. Dominic as a true father to me, to the sublime mixture of both the active and contemplative life – caused a great peace and joy to settle in my soul.

All the little yeses over the years from Him to me and me to Him culminated in a yes to apply this last fall. In February, I was accepted into the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.

Throughout my discernment, many people encouraged and guided me, and each of these people served as the hands, feet and voice of Christ.

To other discerners, I would highly encourage a solid spiritual director who can help you sift through the various voices calling out to you, so that you can distinguish the voice of the Lover of your soul from the Accuser who tries to discourage, confuse and dissuade you.

When God, the One who made and loves you calls, your yes will allow the Light of the World, Christ Himself, to be made manifest through you. Your fiat allows you to go to the limits of your longing, and find Him Who Is the fulfillment of all desire.

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