We met at CCD and our relationship has always been within the context of our faith. In middle school we were on the same Challenge team and we would go on retreats and camps together. I appreciated this person who was always up for a laugh and who shared the same love for our faith.
Then something happened.
I called Nicole’s house one day in the summer before our ninth grade and asked to speak to her. Nicole’s dad told me she was in Rhode Island for a month. A month later I called again and discovered that Nicole was enrolled at Immaculate Conception Academy, a boarding school in Rhode Island for girls who are thinking about consecrated life in Regnum Christi.
That summer God had worked quickly in Nicole’s heart. She had been fundraising with her mom and sister to go to Rome for Pentecost. Every time Nicole expressed doubts the trip would happen, her mom would tell her:
“There’s a reason this is happening. If God wants it, he’ll work it out.”
He did; Nicole participated in an international ECYD convention. Students from Immaculate Conception Academy helped as team leaders in the convention. It was the first time Nicole had spent time with girls from the school and was struck by their joy. She saw something in these girls that she wanted. During the convention and when she was home again, Nicole couldn’t stop thinking about that school in Rhode Island. She felt she had to go and see it.
Nicole expressed this persistent thought to her mom. The next day, Nicole’s mom brought her along to pick up her younger sister at Challenge camp so Nicole could talk to the consecrated women about the school in Rhode Island. The consecrated told her about the month-long program that would start in just two weeks. It would be a perfect opportunity for her to see if she might want to enroll, but the timing made it seem unrealistic.
But her mom’s words came to mind: If God wants it, he’ll work it out. Two weeks later Nicole arrived in Rhode Island for the program.
She felt a little out of place at first. Nicole was one of the few girls who had never been to the high school before. Many had visited Immaculate Conception Academy for conventions and were familiar with the girls and the school. She was again attracted by the joy around her and by the end of the month asked her parents permission to stay at the school.
During our freshman year, Nicole would call me and tell me about life at Immaculate Conception Academy. I was always impressed with how happy she sounded. The next summer, through a series of events and by the grace of God, I also ended up at the summer program for Immaculate Conception Academy and enrolled for my sophomore year. Nicole no longer just sounded happy but I saw she really was. She was a high school girl, who loved to joke around and have fun, but wanted to center her life on Jesus and follow where He would lead.
In December of our senior year all the students of Immaculate Conception Academy went on a pilgrimage traveling from Paris to Rome. Nicole experienced God’s presence and love for her various moments throughout the pilgrimage. A particular moment was when she was in Paray la Monial, the chapel of St. Margaret Mary of Alocoque’s apparitions of the Sacred Heart. Before that Sacred Heart that was burning for love of her, Nicole found the ability to trust in this God who loved her so much and heard his petition for her love in return.
In response to the love she experienced during those four years and still attracted to the joyful lifestyle, that summer Nicole continued on a new stage on her path, following Jesus with the consecrated women of Regnum Christi. God has allowed my path to overlap with my friend Nicole’s for the past three years at the formation center for consecrated women. I am so grateful for the accompaniment of a good friend and the testimony of a woman in love with her God to the extent that she can abandon herself to his plans for her. She is continuing to follow God where he leads, knowing with whatever fears and trials whatever God wants he will work it out.