From raising bees and selling honey, Sr. Irenaeus realized she wanted something more. She wanted to sell something more worthwhile. Through faith, prayer, and Eucharistic Adoration, she realized that God was calling her to Himself, and she joyfully answered that call after college. Her simple vocation story is a beautiful reminder that God calls us from wherever we may be and that He knows the plan for our lives if we are willing to listen and follow.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Sister Irenaeus welcome! Thank you for stopping by. Please tell us a little bit about your background.
Sr. Irenaeus: Growing up, I have one memory that I love. It was on Good Friday. My family went to the Veneration of the Cross; I think I was probably eleven or twelve. I had this amazing and deep sense that Jesus died on the cross for me. When I tried to explain it to my siblings later, they didn’t have the same experience that I did. I realize that He was pulling my heart even then.
High school was the first time I ever experienced Eucharistic Adoration, and that was another moment of feeling Him drawing me more and more to Himself and the emotion of being before Him. I remember weeping. It was so powerful.
We had the opportunity to visit Guatemala when I was sixteen years old. That was another moment I can point my vocation back to – standing in this beautiful place. Standing there on these flat rooftops and looking out, I remember praying out loud, and I didn’t pray much at that time, and I probably would never have prayed spontaneously out loud ever at that time, but saying to the Lord, “Lord, I want to serve You and the Church,” and I didn’t even know what that meant. It took me a long time to find my vocation, but [there were] little hints along the way.
Then there was the opportunity when I was a junior in college, when I came back, to talk to you. I came in, and I think I told you that day that I’m sure that I have a religious vocation.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: That’s exactly how you phrased it. I thought, “This is good. I like you. God is getting you.”
Sr. Irenaeus: He was getting me, and He was pulling and pushing at the same time, and I was trying to say yes.
After I professed my first vows, I went to Eastern Michigan University to get a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate. It means I already had a bachelor’s degree but needed the education classes. My focus area was elementary education, but I also integrated science teaching, especially middle school science.
As a middle school science teacher, I love bringing that same wonder and joy that I have to them. I teach them about bees and birds, and sometimes the birds and the bees. I was a science and religion teacher, [so I also taught] Salvation history, Church history, and religion classes. I was teaching middle school science and religion this last year, but Mother and the council discerned and are sending me to get a Master’s in Biology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: You will do a beautiful job. Sister, thank you for being vocation-oriented, you’re always pure joy to work with. I love the whirlwinds that we create for God.
Sr. Irenaeus: Let’s set some hearts on fire.