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God’s calling me…where?

Sophie Varisco, Staff Writer

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Magdolyn LeBlanc, Seth Ransonet and Joseph Benton are among many St. Thomas More students and graduates who have gone through a period of discernment to seek out their call in life.

What is discernment and how might this work?

For starters, discernment is the ability to recognize and apprehend; this is like when you make a decision whether it be where to eat: do I want the Chinese place on the corner? The Italian restaurant by school? The Mexican place downtown? Discernment is also evident in large decisions: taking a new job, not going to a certain college or majoring in specific field.

Father Sibley, pastor of Our Lady of Wisdom on the UL campus, explains, “Discernment in the context of faith today is discerning God’s will.” Father Sibley goes on to explain it is related to a vocation: marriage, religious life or consecrated single life.

Senior, Joseph Benton, expressed his delight at the thought of discerning in high school saying, “[Discernment] first and foremost is an adventure.” Benton reveals how this discernment process can be “dull and discouraging for the vast majority of the time” but shares that it ultimately leads him to the “fulfillment of a Christian life.”

The tools we can use to aid us in our discernment process are: knowledge, prayer, scripture, and counsel. Dr. Masterson, a St. Thomas More Sophomore and Senior English teacher, recounts her experience stating, “I was very confused about what discernment meant; I didn’t really understand that there were specific stages of the process and that following the guidance of a spiritual director would be very beneficial for me.” Masterson goes on to say she thought that discernment was something a person “thought about really hard or prayed about a couple of times, rather than a perpetual way of life.”

It’s a common theme among high school and college students to be unaware or oblivious to discernment or the call Christ has for us. Mr. Breaux, an STM alumni and current STM sophomore religion teacher, explains, “Traditionally speaking, you can’t truly discern until after you’ve been confirmed and you have the full gifts of the Holy Spirit… that doesn’t mean you can’t begin before that though your discernment is going to be imperfect.”

Father Sibley explains how beginning the process earlier around 14 or 15 would be ideal because high school students begin to “mature” and ask God, “What’s your will, Lord, I want to know what your will is and to start praying and thinking about it.”

Discerning can seem daunting, exciting or just overwhelming. STM graduate, Magdolyn LeBlanc, mentioned how stressful and frustrating her process was when attempting to choose between marriage and religious life. She explains the goal for her was to figure out what the Lord wanted her to do. Was it going to be marriage? Consecrated single life? Religious life?

Mr. Breaux reminds us that discerning is, “A good thing, it’s not scary. This is the reality, right, that students want to get married because… we live in a society that places sexual love above anything else.” He also goes on to say, “What I want people to know is that just discerning the priesthood or religious life is not scary, it’s fun! It doesn’t require you to give up your life and it’s something worthwhile.”

Joseph Benton explains his attraction to the priesthood began as early as the 2nd grade and that the actual process of discerning it is a process of being able to talk to God about it and “going on adventures with God.” Benton also empathizes how traveling allowed him to grow by being able to meet people and “see other ways of life.” He points out by meeting people allowed for him an understanding of vocations through witnessing two people living out their marriage, a priest living out his life through his vocation and how a sister giving “it all to God” by radically living out a life of happiness.


Meanwhile, Magdolyn LeBlanc’s journey of choosing between marriage and religious life awaited her. It was her junior year at St. Thomas More as Magdolyn, affectionately known as Maggy, ventured out on a bus to the grounds of Maryhill for one of the spring Kairos retreat. It was during this time, a radical conversion occurred in Maggy’s heart. This growth was a deep realization of Christ’s closeness to her as she puts it, “He’s a dear companion. Not just God the Father, or Jesus, my bestie, or the Holy Spirit.” This brought out an urge to move forward with people around her.

Father Sibley mentions how high school and college students will attempt to discern alone saying, “It is often very difficult, often impossible, to discern by ourselves.” He comments on encounters he has had with teens and young adults alike who said they discern their vocation one weekend while on a retreat or praying about it a few times. Father Sibley would recommend finding “someone who is more educated” like that of a teacher to process through the decision being made.

However, Maggy came home from the three day retreat seeking Christ: “After that I started spending time in adoration, in front of the blessed sacrament, and in front of Jesus himself. I’d go everyday” she says. Maggy reveals how she would go before school for a least 30 minutes in the chapel, slowly, spending more and more time with Jesus and slowly, in Maggy’s words, he “wrecked” her. After going back over and over again, desiring more and more time with Jesus, she was verbally asked one question, “Maggy will you follow me?”

Through a desire for more time to pray begins the foundation of a deep spiritual life. True discernment is benefitted through a deep spiritual. Dr. Masterson describes discernment as, “A process of prayerful decision-making.” This does not mean it will be easy, Dr. Masterson also says: “there are often difficulties and moments of uncertainty on the path of discernment. However, the spiritual life is primarily the quest of a soul longing for God and, even in the moments of doubt and confusion, that longing in itself can be a consolation.”

Shock. Confusion. Turmoil. Three words that described Maggy’s response to the question before her. Did it stop her from going back? No. Did the question ever leave her? No. Maggy explains, “After weeks and months I was like, ‘Yeah, Lord, I’ll follow you. Whatever that entails.’” However, this would not be the way in which she imagined it.

After accepting the Lord’s call and asking him what he wanted of her, Maggy received no answer. She went on to her senior year serving as a S.A.L.T member and campus minister, adoring her time and formation at STM. During this time, Maggy spent half of her senior year in Mrs. Shannon Phillip’s senior religion class.

At this time, Maggy and the rest of her class learned about religious life, “[Mrs. Phillips] was obsessed with the Dominicans. I learned  about all these religious orders and I fell in love with the idea and I was like, “Oh my goodness! What? That’s so cool!” It dawned on Magdolyn this could be what the Lord was inviting her into but struggled with the idea because she wanted a large Catholic family. She wanted the family you saw at mass with six kids filling up a whole pew.

Instead, she found herself researching different orders and having the attraction to go to Come and Sees for those orders. A Come and See is going out to witness how those orders live out their vocations. Still, being too young at the time to go visit, Maggy, finished out her senior year growing and thriving in the path the Lord set out for her with grace.

Graduating from STM, Maggy attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she got involved around campus through sorority recruitment. She joined the UL Tri-Delta Chapter and to her surprise met women on “fire about Jesus.” It was through women she was involved with Ragin’ Cajun Catholics through Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church.

Getting through her freshman year of college, Maggy described herself as a mess running from God. She goes on to describe her experience during Greek Retreat her freshman year saying, she was reminded to quit running and to follow Christ. So she decided to stop putting her desires before the Lord and thought that maybe she could still be called to marriage, but was not discerning it properly. As Maggy put it, “I was just assuming that my will was my vocation which is a common misconception.”

As Mr. Breaux puts it, “Find God’s will, and in finding God’s will, we find our own fulfillment.” In other words, seeking out a vocation requires us to remember who made us and why. 

Moving forward, Maggy decided to start visiting those orders and look for “spiritual direction” thinking it would all be great. To her surprise after meeting with a certain priest that told her she didn’t have a vocation and to revert it to prayer. Not long after she visited the Nashville Dominicans and fell in love with them but was terrified to think that it was for her. Instead, she discovered that this wasn’t the time nor the order for her to enter, but that religious life was what she was being asked.

“It was the most stressful time in my life.”

Not long afterwards, Maggy’s dear friend Alaina Kiefner posted a flier on the “Wisdom Wall” about a camping trip in the mountains with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin Matará, known as Servidoras, an IVE religious family. After reading into it, she signed up saying, “It was the perfect Catholic camp” in a nutshell the trip reminded Maggy of 10,000 Feet.

She got on the flight in New Orleans at 5:00 a.m. only knowing one person and with no purpose of discerning. Sitting on the airplane alone, Maggy thought to herself, “What the heck am I doing with my life? Oh my gosh! I am going to fly to D.C. and then going to upstate New York for a camping trip for almost two weeks with people I have never met.” Fortunately for her, everything was provided for and donated to her stating, “the Lord desired me there.”

Upon her arrival, Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, known as Sister Crucified, picked Maggy up from the airport. Maggy shared with Sister Crucified how she hated flying alone, hated going on the metro alone and how she had to do both. As she shared with the sister, Maggy  began laughing and joking around with the her, “I have never felt so comfortable with someone in my life. I forgot she was a sister” Maggy recalls. After a while Maggy was almost shocked by how different this order was from the others she had visited. In her mind it was like a puzzle was coming together with a big billboard signs, ultimately Maggy knew after a week.

In one particular instance on this revealing trip, Maggy and her roommate Alaina were late one morning for mass and ended up sitting in the back. It was during this mass Maggy realized that this is what she desired most. Maggy explained, “I desired to give every inch of my body to him. Every inch of my body, my soul to him.” She explains that she knew physically and spiritually that “Jesus was holding her heart.” After mass she left asking for Sister Crucified and explained everything to her, when Sister Crucified asked her, “When are you talking to the vocations director?” When Maggy refused and the sister questioned her, “ What do you mean? The Lord is pelting you with these signs, you need to go talk to her.”

The retreat continued, Maggy went to a talk on virtues and was sitting with Alaina chatting when Sister Crucified walks up smiling placing a card in Maggy’s hands. The card, which Maggy still holds onto, was Mother Faith’s card who was the vocations director. After receiving the card, Maggy looked at it and instantly thought she was going to throw up on Sister Crucified.

The next part of the retreat focused on the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Maggy explained how she thought the exercises would be miserable given her extroverted personality, but she actually ended up loving them. They caused her to become more vulnerable and to let Jesus in her brokenness because it was just Jesus and her, no one else.  She recalls one part of the spiritual exercises where she had to pick between two things basically making a pros and cons list. Maggy explains, “The trick is to pick what allows you to do the Lord’s will not your own.” So she decided to see what it would be in regards to marriage and religious life. As terrified as she was she did this during adoration, taking each one making the lists, setting it aside, and praying for a while. To her surprise she saw religious life’s pros were all down the page with a few cons.

Afterwards, she spoke to a priest that had been on the retreat with them and he asked her, “What more do you need?” So Maggy showed him the papers from the exercises and he helped her realize she needed to “jump off the boat and say, ‘Yes!’ to the Lord instead of running from him.”

After finishing the retreat, Maggy made her way to the Youth Festival where she met and sat with Mother Faith where they spent four hours talking. Maggy looks back on it says, “That was terrifying to tell her everything in great detail and have her asking me all these tough questions.” When the conversation came to a close Mother Faith looked to her and asked, “When are you applying?” Maggy was taken aback by this and realized she needed to talk to her parents and meet with her spiritual director more regularly.

Maggy setup spiritual direction with Father Bryce Sibley upon arriving home to Lafayette. She wrote out and explained everything to him as she did with Mother Faith, meeting with him for almost two hours. Father Sibley also asked her the same question, “When are you applying?” For Maggy this was not the first nor the last person to ask her that question and she was now tasked with telling her parents.

“It went terrible.”

“At first it was wonderful, but I was dreading telling them,” Maggy says recalling the moment she revealed to them where she knew the Lord was calling her. There were tears shed and loads of excitement when she told them about entering into religious life. Unfortunately, this did not last long after time passed and her family didn’t take the thought of her leaving for Washington D.C. well while also being sent from there to wherever on missions.

Instead, Maggy thought she could wait the 4 years of college continuing her education stating, “I wanted to teach secondary education. I wanted to be the next Shannon Phillips.” Maggy also was involved in sorority recruitment and Our Lady of Wisdom. As the year continued, the Lord worked in Maggy’s life, “The Lord kind of wrecked me again and was like, ‘Why are you so selfish? Why are you putting your vocation on hold for your family?’” Shocked by this, Maggy realized she had to “drop her nets now and follow him.” This was especially evident after a series of “call out events” by her wonderful spiritual director, Father Sibley.


Magdolyn also recalled a moment with Mrs. Shannon Phillips at STM, while looking at the vocations board after mass saying, “Eh, I’m gonna wait four years.” and Mrs. Phillips replying to her, “You’ll be on this board next year.” Maggy, once again in shock by this replied, “No, I’m not.” Mrs. Phillips laughed responding, “You will.” Puzzled by her response, Maggy couldn’t seem to grasp how her past teacher couldn’t see her finishing her degree first. “The Lord continued to wreck me revealed over and over that he was inviting me now.”

It was from this point on, Magdolyn LeBlanc told Mother Faith, whom she kept in contact with every three week since the trip,  about how the Lord was inviting her now but she planned to wait four years. Mother Faith asked her on one of these occasions, “Maggy, why are you putting this on hold?” Mother knew she was putting her vocation on hold and told Maggy that she was going to send her the application saying, “I’m not going to force you to apply, but I think you should start.” Hesitant to apply, Maggy turned to prayer and guidance of her spiritual director and began the application process.

Dr. Masterson likewise had difficulties coming to her vocation saying, “I waited a long time to give myself to the vocation of marriage because I didn’t discern properly and, therefore, could not give myself in faith to the Father’s will; this left me in limbo, in a sense, because I was never able to choose anything. When I actively began the discernment process, I opened myself to the graces of the sacraments and little by little began to understand a part of God’s will for myself and my future spouse.”

Mr. Breaux also connects with this when he says, “For a long time I was terrified of the idea to go to seminary because I wanted to get married. If I could do it all over again I would’ve gone to the seminary and I would have left but I would have gone and I think I would be better for that.”

Starting by getting her baptismal certificate, Maggy realized the excitement people had when she was asked why she needed it. She decided to get her confirmation certificate and realized the joy she had completing the application saying, “The first day I was about half through!” She finished the application within three weeks of receiving it from Mother Faith. Ironically, she unknowingly submitted the application during vocations’ week.

After submitting the application Maggy told her parents, who were very upset. Maggy laments, “Things kind of blew up, I had to leave home. They did not support my vocation and still don’t.” Although there was some dismay, Maggy didn’t lose hope saying, “This is what the Lord is asking of me.”


On the feast of Christ the King, Maggy was with her friend Andrea, who is also entering Servidoras, in the Wisdom Cafe, known as Campus Grounds. While there, Maggy was on her computer when she received an email from Mother Faith. With curiosity, Maggy opened the email saying she is about to come on a trip to Lafayette. Maggy also noted the email said, “Hope this isn’t too late, congratulations!”  This was Maggy’s acceptance letter into Servidoras to which she responded with tears while running to the crucifix in the Church. As Maggy recalled the memory with tears in her eyes she says, “I knelt down before him with the joy, the peace, the happiness, the excitement, the everything. I was sitting there and it was such a long hard journey to get to that point.” In the Church, she prayed, “Lord, you are worth every loss I have had to endure so far.” Sitting there Maggy realized she was ready to give herself to the Lord.

Maggy dropped out of UL knowing she wouldn’t be attending the spring semester, “It was difficult because I had to quit doing Wisdom stuff and I had to stop doing stuff with my sorority, and I had to stop doing all these things college kids do.” However, Maggy was faced with yet another trial: $9,000 of student loans. After talking to Mother Faith about fundraising, putting off fundraising for a few months, never sending letters to people asking for donations, till finally meeting with Father Sibley for spiritual direction, Maggy created a gofundme account in order to raise money.

In 4 days Maggy’s goal of $9,000 was reached with a total of $9,040, she considered it one of the biggest blessing in her life. “It was hard trusting in the Lord in that moment,” Maggy said thinking it would take months in order to raise the money. Her gofundme page is still up the current total of money raised is $11,330, the remaining money will be to help pay for fees within the use of the fundraising platform. The Lord provided abundantly for Maggy who now patiently awaits her entrance date of May 23, 2018.

At some point in our lives we encounter situations where discernment is prevalent. We can take comfort as Father Sibley’s words simply state, “Don’t be afraid! God’s not going to call you to something to make you miserable.” Christ also works through the mentors in our lives who may leave huge impressions on us for years to come.  Finally, the blessings and joys found in each vocation like that of purpose, selfless service and a relationship with Christ enrich our lives and push us to live out our call to holiness. The holiness we are called to live out can be strengthened by frequenting the sacrament and spending time in adoration. In other words, consider finding a mentor or spiritual director, frequent the sacraments of confession and mass and grow a prayer life in adoration.



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