November 5, 2021

2021 Vocations Awareness Supplement

Sister of Life from Indianapolis calls Jesus ‘the greatest adventure’

Sister of Life Lucia Christi smiles while holding a newborn during a Christmas party while serving a two-year mission at the Sisters of Life’s crisis pregnancy center in New York City, where they provide support to pregnant women in crisis and offer continuing support to them following the birth of their children. (Submitted photo courtesy of the Sisters of Life)

Sister of Life Lucia Christi smiles while holding a newborn during a Christmas party while serving a two-year mission at the Sisters of Life’s crisis pregnancy center in New York City, where they provide support to pregnant women in crisis and offer continuing support to them following the birth of their children. (Submitted photo courtesy of the Sisters of Life)

By Natalie Hoefer

Laura Zetzl started at Indiana University in Bloomington in the fall of 2010 “ready to take on the world.”

“I wanted to be a wife, a mother with lots of kids,” she said. “I wanted to be a neonatologist. I had it all. But still, I was unhappy, restless and frustrated.”

So began the first steps in the vocational journey of 29-year-old Sister Lucia Christi, who, “God willing,” will profess her final vows next summer as a Sister of Life.

But before the former member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis could start the baby steps of her journey, there was a seed planted, a thought that would give birth to her vocation.

‘That phrase kept coming back to me’

While a student at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis, a call to the religious life was far from Sister Lucia Christi’s mind.

“At that point, I’d never considered a religious vocation as an option,” she said.

While at Ritter, she attended short sessions taught by the school’s then-chaplain Father John Hollowell. One day, the topic was vocations.

“A few days later, he said to me, ‘Maybe you’ll be a sister sometime.’ I laughed it off,” Sister Lucia Christi said.

By the end of her freshman year of college, her restlessness and dissatisfaction became unbearable.

“I looked at my dreams and thought, ‘This can’t be it.’ I was mad at God because I thought this was his plan for me. But I never really asked him what his plan for me was.”

So she asked.

“I spent my sophomore year asking him, ‘How have you made my heart to love? What are your dreams for me?’

“As I started discerning, that phrase ‘Maybe you’ll be a sister sometime’ kept coming back to me.”

Sister Lucia Christi started spending more time in adoration and praying more with Scripture.

“I found that the more time I spent with the Lord, that’s where my heart found joy and rest,” she said. “And Father Hollowell’s question came back.”

At first, she said, she was “totally terrified” at what life as a religious sister might look like.

“Jesus was so kind and patient and persistent,” she said. “As I spent time with him and prayed more deeply, I found myself falling in love without realizing that’s what was happening.

“Finally, I heard Jesus say, ‘Would you be my bride and mother all of my children?’

“Finally, I was able to say yes. But then I thought, ‘Now what?’ ”

‘What a way to spend a lifetime’

Sister Lucia Christi spoke with a priest at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington at the end of her sophomore year. After sharing her story with him, he simply said, “I have the perfect order for you—the Sisters of Life.”

She looked them up online, and she knew she’d found her vocational home.

“I read through the whole [site],” said Sister Lucia Christi. “It was an experience of encountering my own heart written out.

“All my dreams for my life I found in our charism—to love the human person just because they are. Not because of anything they can do or their status, but just because God loves them and created them.

“To live a life of love and joy and invite people into a life where God loves him. To lay down my life so others may live. To be a voice for the voiceless, the elderly, the unborn, the forgotten, those whose lives count for less in the world. To be a sign pointing to heaven.

“I thought, ‘What a way to spend a lifetime.’ It was everything I wanted without having words to express it at the time.”

Sister Lucia Christi contacted the order’s vocation director, who helped her learn more about the order “and about my own heart.” She also started spiritual direction with a priest.

“It was pretty clear this is where the Lord was calling me,” she said.

The order requires its sisters to have a college degree, so Sister Lucia Christi dropped her pre-med classes and focused on earning a bachelor’s degree in human biology.

She entered the Sisters of Life as a postulant a few months after graduating in 2014.

‘The light of Christ’

For the Sisters of Life, postulancy is a roughly 10-month time frame during which the potential sisters learn more about the order and their way of life.

It is also a time when the women discern the religious name they wish to take.

“It’s about asking the Lord, ‘What are you calling me to do and what’s the mission you’re inviting me into?’ ” Sister Lucia Christi explained.

“I felt like the Lord put that name [Lucia Christi] on my heart. It means ‘the light of Christ.’

“It’s my experience of Jesus being the light who shines in the dark and the dark cannot, will not overcome it, and him inviting me to be that light in the world in a way only possible for me, and in doing that to have his light shine through everyone I encounter in only the way they can.”

Sister Lucia Christi likens living out her name to the Easter Vigil. The sanctuary is dark until the paschal candle is processed in. Then one person lights a candle from that candle’s flame, and that light is passed on until the sanctuary is lit by the flames of the candles held by each in the congregation.

“When the light of Christ shines brightly in our heart, then the whole world catches fire,” she said. “Letting his light shine through me and bringing that light to everyone I meet.”

In July 2015, Sister Lucia Christi received her habit and her new name, then entered her two-year novitiate.

‘One of the greatest challenges and joys’

Sisters of Life novices spend the first year “in deep prayer, study and formation, and allowing the Lord to do some deep interior work, healing and growing in our own identity,” she explained.

The second year is spent learning about the sisters’ apostolates, spending two months at a time at their different mission houses.

Sister Lucia Christi professed her first vows in August 2017. The next two years she served at the sisters’ crisis pregnancy center in New York City.

During that mission, she “really grappled with the call to go into the darkest places of humanity and encounter sin in a way I never experienced before, the ugliness of it, and the pain and suffering in other people’s lives, and be invited to bring Jesus into the darkness.

“It’s one of the greatest challenges and also one of the greatest joys.”

She is currently more than halfway through her second two-year mission, “sharing the Gospel and our charism” with students on seven college campuses in Colorado and one in North Dakota.

“I’m preparing to make final vows next summer, God willing,” she said.

‘Be not afraid’

Sister Lucia Christi’s vocational journey has been full of grace, she said, but not without its difficulties.

“In the beginning, the great challenge was to let go of my own dreams and desires, the letting go of what I thought my life would look like, to surrender my will to the will of the Father, which is different sometimes” from ours, she said.

“It required sacrifices along the way—the initial separation from family and friends, the move from Indiana to New York City, which was quite a change.”

But now Sister Lucia Christi sees “the Lord blessing those sacrifices, knowing Jesus never takes something from us without giving something in return.”

To youths and young adults considering a call to a religious vocation, Sister Lucia Christi offers three simple words of advice: “Be not afraid.”

“Jesus is the desire of every human heart,” she said. “He’s the greatest adventure. He knows you and loves you more than you could ever imagine.

“Whatever you go through, it will be your greatest joy. Whatever he asks of us, he has more to give us—more love, more joy, a more abundant life.

“So, be not afraid.”
 

(To learn more about the Sisters of Life, go to sistersoflife.org. For those seeking crisis pregnancy help, text 212-203-8716 or call 877-7771277. For those seeking help after an abortion, call 866-575-0075 or e-mail hopeandhealing@sistersoflife.org.) †

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