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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Special Way of Following Christ
Kathleen Almon tells how she found happiness in following God´s will.

Kathleen Almon
Kathleen Almon
I can´t remember the first time I thought of the idea of a vocation, but I know the idea crossed my mind very early in life when I read the lives of the saints and was inspired by their holiness. Before I get into details, I´ll tell you a little about my family and myself. I´m the youngest of Brian and Gina Almon´s six children and I lived in Texas my whole life. My family has always been Catholic so I was raised in the faith, but we weren´t extraordinary. I attended St. Louis Catholic School for 1st & 2nd grade, and then I was home schooled until I entered Immaculate Conception Academy in Rhode Island for my last two years of high school. I had normal activities and interests: piano lessons, softball, the Church choir, etc. In the midst of this normal life, God was working to make His plan for my life known to me.

I first met the consecrated women in Regnum Christi when I was about 10. My first impression was that they were nice ladies. They helped to start a group for Catholic women for my mom and also a girls club, which my mom quickly put me in. Being shy, I didn´t always like attending the meetings but they helped me to become more involved in my faith. I really fell in love with the spirit of these girls clubs in 1996, when at age 11 I attended a national convention held at Overbrook Academy in Warwick, Rhode Island. Little did I know, I would be consecrated at that same academy just six years later. These conventions were held at local, national and international levels about once a year for girls club members throughout the United States and other countries. The consecrated women would give talks on the faith, explaining how to build a friendship with Christ and the mission of the girls clubs. There were also sports, contests, and games, daily Mass, prayers, rosary and confession and spiritual guidance. Best of all, there was an indescribable spirit of charity, family spirit and enthusiasm. From that summer onward, I regularly attended retreats, camps and conventions that the consecrated women provided. Through these, I got to know the Regnum Christi Movement, the consecrated women and the precandidates. The precandidates are girls who attend Immaculate Conception Academy in Rhode Island in order to discover what God wants for their lives. They have a normal high school education and activities, yet also live a deeper lifestyle of prayer with girls who share the ideal of discovering God´s Will.

I thought in the back of my mind I probably had a vocation to be some sort of nun, but I never thought of the consecrated life. The possibility really entered my life when my own girls club leader left for the precandidacy during her senior year. I did not know that much about the precandidacy at the time, so I did not understand why someone normal like my team leader would want to go, especially for her senior year of high school. I decided that year to go to the Christmas convention at the precandidacy to visit her as well as enjoy another fun and enriching convention. It was 1998 and I was in ninth grade. I thought the convention would be normal but it turned out to be a convention I never forgot. What struck me the most was everywhere I looked I found the authentically happy faces of these high school girls. They were all so normal, yet they left so much and they were happy about it! It left me really confused about life. I thought that God could be calling me to go to school there so He could make me happy like them. I did not think it would make me that happy, since my life seemed fine at home. So I told God flat out "no way"!

I arrived home from that convention ready to continue my normal life, but God had other plans. In little ways, he kept bringing the precandidacy up, either in prayer or through letters and phone calls from the precandidates I knew. Also during this time, I really felt the desire to seek out what Christ wanted of me, but I did not want anyone to know. I remember cutting out a clipping from the National Catholic Register for more information on religious life. I never got the guts to mail it because I did not know what my parents would think if I started getting all this "vocational mail." Since I was home schooled, I had the great blessing of attending daily Mass. My mom was also in charge of the monthly Adoration for Vocations every first Monday. When there were not enough people, I would end up spending several Holy Hours before Christ in the Eucharist. All of this helped me to build up my trust and love for Christ. After a year and a half, I decided to go to the Precandidacy for the last two years of high school. Somehow, I knew it was not just for two years of high school. I knew that it was just the first step before Christ asked for my whole life.

So was I happy? Incredibly! At the Precandidacy, I was able to focus my life around Christ and His Will for me, while still receiving a normal high school education, and surrounded by normal girls all sharing this ideal. Of course it was hard at times, just like life at home, but there are wonderful gifts one can´t find anywhere else: daily Mass and prayers, weekly spiritual guidance and confession, monthly retreats, etc. I thank God every day for the gift of letting me have two years there, where I was able to discover and love His will for me.

After my graduation, I attended a discernment program for about six weeks with twelve other girls from my class. During these six weeks I had a chance to focus entirely on Christ and confirm that He had given me a vocation to belong exclusively to Him. After that program, I consecrated my life to Christ. So what does that mean?

"A consecrated person is a man or woman who, obedient to God the Father´s call and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, has chosen to profess the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) as a special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to Him with as undivided heart. Like the Apostles, they leave everything, as He did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters" (Cf. John Paul II, Vita Consecrata).

Now I am a consecrated laywoman, having made promises of poverty, chastity and obedience, which with God´s grace I will renew solemnly in 2004. I´m consecrated within the Regnum Christi Movement and look forward to a life serving the Church. To prepare for my life of apostolate, I have four years of study and formation, which I am living now at the Mater Ecclesiae International Formation Center in Rhode Island. I will earn a bachelor´s degree and then continue studying to earn advanced degrees. The apostolates of Regnum Christi include these seven ministries: education, family counseling and formation, support of parish life, youth ministry, Catholic doctrine, mass media, and work with the poor and underprivileged.

Well, that is how God got me where I am now, but now the real adventure begins as I fight every day to be faithful to His Call. So, I ask for your prayers for my fidelity and perseverance. You can also be assured of my prayers for all of you and all that you will be faithful to your Christian calling of holiness and apostolate. I also encourage everyone to help the Church by praying for vocations. God is calling so many, and they really need the support of the Catholic community.

God Bless!
Kathleen Almon

(October 15, 2003)



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Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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