COLORADO SPRINGS. There are many vocations within the Catholic Church, but finding that vocation can be challenge. Following are profiles of two young women who, after having gone through the process of discernment, have chosen vocations — one as a consecrated virgin and the other as a religious sister.
Lisa Hunt, a math teacher at Mesa Ridge High School, was consecrated as a virgin living in the world by Bishop Michael Sheridan on July 16 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, surrounded by roughly 100 relatives and friends who traveled to Colorado Springs for the event. But her journey to the vocation was far from easy.
“I wasn’t raised in any faith and my parents told me and my sisters that we were not allowed to be baptized until age 18,” said Hunt, a native of Temecula, California. “Through high school, I would have called myself Christian but didn’t know what that meant. However, I grew up across the street from a very devout Catholic family; I went through confirmation programs with their sons because the dad led classes out of his garage.”
Her friendship with her Catholic neighbors led Hunt to begin attending Mass during college, although she also attended Protestant services and was baptized in a Protestant church. But she completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and entered the Catholic Church in 2005, with one of her Catholic neighbors as her sponsor.
Hunt immediately immersed herself in the life of her California parish, joining the church’s active young adult group while working as a teacher. Although she greatly enjoyed the fellowship and growing in her faith, she also noticed that one by one the other members of the group were pairing off.
“At age 30, I had been a bridesmaid in 10 weddings and had nine godchildren,” Hunt said. “I had been surrounded by a lot of marriages and babies and was the oldest person in the group.”
Beginning to suspect that God might have something other than marriage in mind for her, Hunt visited several religious orders.
“I left feeling that the vocation (of a religious sister) was very beautiful yet did not feel called to it at all,” Hunt said.
However, a conversation with her longtime spiritual director in 2014 changed the trajectory of Hunt’s discernment. The priest agreed that she was not called to religious life, but neither did he think she would get married.
“That’s when he told me about consecrated virginity,” Hunt said. “I really struggled; I did not want it at first. Even some of the Catholic families in my life had a hard time with it.”
According to the website www.consecratedvirgins.org, a virgin living in the world “is betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church.” Consecrated virgins are under the direction of the diocesan bishop. They support themselves financially and are completely responsible for their medical care and retirement. Unlike religious women, they do not take vows of poverty or obedience, nor do they wear habits.
By October 2015, Hunt had decided to pursue consecration. Through mutual friends, she made contact with Tara Stone, a member of St. Peter Parish in Monument, who was consecrated as a virgin living in the world in 2016. Stone, in turn, put her in contact with Bishop Sheridan, and Hunt moved to Colorado Springs in the summer of 2017 with the intention of being consecrated in the diocese.
“Ultimately, my role is to live in the world and be reaching people who wouldn’t necessarily encounter the Church,” Hunt said. “I get to be Christ to people — especially students — who may never encounter Christ.”
Claire Ramos, who until recently served as the director of religious education at St. Peter Parish in Monument, grew up in a military family and had lived in Colorado Springs for several years as a child.
“Holy Apostles is where I received First Reconciliation and First Communion,” Ramos said.
After graduating from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Ramos had planned to join the Air Force but instead found herself working in parish religious education in Texas. Although drawn to religious life, family circumstances and other factors caused Ramos to put off taking any concrete steps.
“I’ve had this calling for a really long time, but you always have these feelings of not being worthy enough,” Ramos said.
However, in summer of 2017, Ramos — who by then was living and working in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, decided she couldn’t put God off any longer.
“The restlessness got stronger; I felt I needed to take it seriously and starting exploring religious life on my own, but it’s really difficult because there are so many orders,” she said. “That’s when I saw Sister Bernadette (Mota) advertising for a Samuel Group — a group to help you discern your vocation.”
An online questionnaire showed Ramos that she might be compatible with the Salesian order, and a two-week “Come and See” experience with the sisters in June validated that conclusion. On Sept. 1, she left for San Antonio, Texas to begin her postulancy with the Salesian Sisters. Although saying goodbye to friends and family in Colorado was not easy, Ramos said she trusts that God is leading her in the right direction.
“For those who are discerning the priesthood or religious life, our biggest struggle is trust, but how can we fail to trust God our father, who loves us more than anyone on earth loves us,” Ramos said.