Kathleen McMullin first began thinking about religious life while she was a student at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, but she wanted to go to college and pursue a career in medicine. She graduated from Mississippi State and became a certified Occupational Therapist, but she says that Jesus kept calling for something more: “He is patient, but he is persistent.”
McMullin says that as a professional she had begun to struggle with her faith, “it reached a point where I realized that my relationship with the Lord was not where it had been, my faith was not growing, and that I was lost.”
That’s when I met Kathleen. She told me while recording an interview for The Discerning Catholic Podcast that her mother encouraged her to set a meeting with me. At that point I was the parochial vicar at St. Richard in Jackson. Kathleen says that at that point in her life she had seen her brothers get married and start families, and she says, “I wanted [marriage] as well…really religious life was off the table.”
We spoke over Zoom about how I encouraged her to pray and invited her to come on a “nun run” with some parish youth group members as a chaperone. Kathleen says that after these events she “started getting up earlier in the morning and praying with scripture and got to the point where I was craving that time in the morning.”
“Slowly over time the Lord revealed how he made my heart and made me pursue him and the fact that he was pursuing my heart as well. I became more open to at least going down that road of religious life.”
Kathleen started to look at different orders. She enjoyed a visit to the Nashville Dominicans, a rapidly growing order whose primary apostolate is teaching, and she says she benefitted greatly from going on a visit during a designated weekend at their mother house.
“A big thing is just interacting with sisters and getting to see their joy and what drew them to this life.”
But she says that through prayer she was drawn to share her professional gifts with the church, she explains, “I knew I wanted to explore an order that had a medical apostolate — that’s the word for their work.”
Through a friend she met in Nashville, Kathleen was pointed toward The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, a Franciscan order with a house in Alton, Illinois.
“Their charism — it’s kind of like their mission statement — is to make the merciful love of Christ visible…and there was a little flicker in my heart that was like, ooo, I like that.”
Kathleen contacted the vocation director for the order and says they had a great discussion. She made two separate visits over several months and made the decision to enter postulancy for the community.
Kathleen will enter the community this September, and I will have more from her interview later this summer. Her journey to this point has inspired me to be more confident in the Lord’s plan for myself and those that I serve. And she is not alone in seeking out the Lord’s will through religious life. Sister Kelly Moline, a Springfield Dominican working in our diocese at St. Dominic Hospital, will take her final vows with the community in Springfield, Illinois on the Feast of St. Dominic, Aug. 8. And elsewhere in this issue of Mississippi Catholic you can read about the priestly ordination of Father James Martin Nobles, O.P., a native of McComb and newly ordained for the Southern Province of Dominican Friars.
The church is one big family, and we rejoice that there are those in our midst who are giving themselves over to the Lord with vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This gift speaks to all of us of the need to have greater confidence in the Lord’s power than our own abilities, and their joy tells us that it is worth it to give everything we have up to the Lord.
If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email Fr. Nick Adam at email@example.com