From One ND to another: Sister Michaela Martinez’s Journey from Notre Dame to the Nashville Dominicans
Sr. Michaela Martinez, a Notre Dame graduate and a member of the Nashville Dominicans, shares with THE ROVER her discernment experience. The average age of new entrants to the Nashville Dominicans is 23 years old; over 90 women have entered the convent in the past five years. Another member of the community includes former Notre Dame women’s basketball player Kelsey Wicks, now Sr. Joan of Arc.
What did you study at Notre Dame? What activities were you involved in?
I double majored in English and theology and minored in music. I also enjoyed studying Italian in preparation for a semester abroad. During my four years at Notre Dame I sang with the Folk Choir which became my college family. I was also involved with musical theatre, both performing in the shows and choreographing a few musicals and an opera.
What year did you graduate? What did you do immediately following graduation?
2006. It was during the second semester of my senior year that I decided to enter the convent, so after graduating I returned home to Texas to spend the summer with my family and prepare to enter.
When did you first hear of the Nashville Dominicans? When did you think to discern a vocation there?
My first contact with the St. Cecilia Dominicans was when I was a senior in high school. While writing a paper on sisters, I called the sisters in Nashville for an interview. On my first day of class at Notre Dame it just so happened that one of my classmates began to speak of their aunt who was a Nashville Dominican. As the conversation continued I realized their aunt was the one sister I had spoken with. Over the next couple years she came to visit the campus a few times. I remember seeing the sisters for the first time in the Basilica and being struck by the beauty of their habits. I remember thinking to myself, “They look like brides of Christ.”
Were you already pursuing the religious life when you came across the Nashville Dominicans, or did that order in particular compel you to consider the religious life?
Since the time I was little I had a sort of magnetic attraction to sisters. There was something about the joy and peace that radiated from the sisters I met that drew me to their life. As I began to discern more seriously, my attraction to religious life and my desire to be a St. Cecilia Dominican grew simultaneously. I would have never visited the sisters in Nashville if I didn’t think I might have a vocation, but it was when I saw the beauty of their life and the joy they found living it that I really knew God was inviting me to be totally his.
While you were a college student did you ever see yourself in the religious life?
I spent the fall semester of my junior year in Rome and it was there that I discovered my vocation. Being at the heart of the Church deepened my love for the faith and increased my desire to dedicate myself to Christ through her. I began to question how I could live out this desire? At the suggestion of a priest, each day I began to visit a Church to spend 15 minutes of silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was one afternoon while I was praying at Santa Maria in Trastevere that the Lord proposed to me. I had been asking him about his plans for me and telling him that I wanted to be a bride and a mother and he responded by inviting me to be His bride and to mother His children. I couldn’t say no.
Were there any particular experiences at Notre Dame that deeply affected your pursuit of a vocation to the religious life? Or any mentors in particular?
Being part of the Notre Dame family and her rich Catholic tradition helped me to see the importance of community in our call to holiness. During my four years at Notre Dame, I loved being a part of something so beautiful and so much bigger than me. I learned the value of surrounding yourself with other people who desire the same goal as you. My desire was to be holy – to become a saint. My friendships at Notre Dame helped me along that path and now my sisters encourage me each day to grow in holiness and love.
What are you doing currently? Do you know how long you will have the position for, or where you will be next?
I am currently teaching senior religion at Knoxville Catholic High School. I don’t know how long I will be here – that is part of the adventure of religious life. We go wherever we are needed, whenever we are asked to go.
Any recommendation you’d like to make or advice you’d like to give?
Remember that you are holy. At baptism, we each received our vocation to be saints. God’s will for your life is not a mystery; he is inviting you to deep love and union with him. Each day strive to love Jesus more than the day before – on that path you will find the happiness and love you were made for.
Laura Lindsley is a senior PLS major whom Gabby has designated as “Rover interview extraordinaire.” Laura hopes you don’t mind. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.