Apostles of the Interior Life give witness to joy of community life
by Jane Graves
LAWRENCE — When Adam Hauser graduates from the University of Kansas this coming spring, he’ll leave with a diploma — and a treasure.
That “treasure” is what he was taught by the Apostles of the Interior Life.
“I’ll take away a great treasure, particularly daily meditation and the importance of Mass and confession — for the interior things — and also the importance of really spreading this idea to others,” said Hauser.
He’s not alone. Many other KU students and permanent community members of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center have also benefited from the four Sisters who comprise the Apostles of the Interior Life community in Lawrence.
“I really see that they bring a sense of joy to the center,” said Father Steve Beseau, director of the campus center. “They also witness to the importance of community life and how much joy it [brings] to be a follower of Christ.”
Hauser, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park, said that the Sisters’ friendship and their joy helped him to look more deeply into his interior formation. He began receiving spiritual direction from Sister Loredana Mazzei while he was just a freshman.
“I was really inspired just by meeting with Sister [Loredana] — just the care that she gave to me as a person, to my soul.”
“And then I was inspired by her example and the example of the Sisters to go and pray more deeply and to do more of what they did, because I really realized the peace and the happiness that they had,” Hauser added.
The order of the Apostles of the Interior Life was founded in 1990 and received its first recognition from the Diocese of Rome in 1996. The Sisters began serving on college campuses in 2000, first at the University of Illinois and then on the campus of the University of Kansas in 2003.
Four Sisters serve at the St. Lawrence Center, four others serve at Texas A&M, and the remaining 11 of the 19 community members are based in Rome.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas recently recognized the institution of the provincial house of the Apostles of the Interior Life. (See decree at right).
Sister Loredana, who was one of the founding members of the community, said she was attracted to the Apostles of the Interior Life because of the chance to really care for souls.
“This is our charism,” she said, “to really directly get to know people, to help them where they are at in their journey, and do the journey together.”
Community members accomplish this, she said, “through friendships — and then many times through the spiritual direction, too, because they want something more.”
Sister Elena Morcelli, who has been at the St. Lawrence Center since 2003, said that while leaving Italy and coming to the United States was a bit daunting for the community, being given the chance to serve on college campuses was providential.
“Young people are more open and available to receiving formation,” she said. “So we really target young people in a special way.”
Sister Loredana agreed that serving youth has helped them fulfill the community’s charism, saying, “It’s wonderful, because it’s a time when they are really making changes, and they are really getting more mature on an interior level.
“So when that human maturity is accompanied by that spiritual maturity, you see wonders.”
Sister Elena said the diverse staffing resources of the St. Lawrence Center also make it possible for the Apostles of Interior Life to focus on their primary purpose — the formation of the interior, or the soul, as well as evangelization. They are currently providing spiritual direction to approximately 120 students and permanent community members.
“The spiritual direction component is really what they can give here at the center that other people cannot,” said Father Beseau. “Certainly not only in terms of numbers, but also in the way they do it.”
“They really complement our catechetical classes, where the people are formed intellectually,” he continued, “and then formed spiritually on top of that, with what the Sisters do.”
Hauser is currently considering whether he’s called to the priesthood and has gone to meetings of the Samuel Group, which helps youth in their vocational discernment. The idea for the Samuel Group originated with Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan, Italy.
Without the guidance provided by the Sisters, Hauser’s spiritual journey to his current state would have been much longer.
Sister Loredana, for her part, said the gift was mutual. “When [Adam] speaks, there is something that, many times, God is telling me through that meeting,” she said.
“And that’s the richness that comes from spiritual direction,” she continued, “because it’s not ‘I,’ a sentient being, that can direct anything. But we really count on the fact that this spiritual direction is a supernatural meeting, because we believe that the Holy Spirit is present and he is teaching both of us something.”