by Moira Cullings
LAWRENCE — Out of all the decisions she made on her journey to become an Apostle of the Interior Life (AVI), this one was one of the easiest.
“When the community asked if I had a desire for where I wanted to have my consecration, [I knew] right away: St. Lawrence,” said Sister Kate Cropp.
“For me,” she continued, “it was where I really encountered Jesus and was really able to find these desires in my heart.
“I feel very at home there, and I always have.”
Cropp, a 2017 graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, was consecrated as an AVI with the promises of poverty, chastity and obedience at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at the university’s St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center on Dec. 8.
“St. Lawrence has been blessed with over five dozen priestly vocations and three dozen religious vocations — most of them in the last 30 years,” said Father Mitchel Zimmerman, chaplain and director of the center.
“Though the fruit of vocations is plentiful here,” he added, “we remain ever more grateful for each and all.
“There is no greater fruit from our mission than these vocations.”
Like many vocations to the consecrated life, Sister Kate’s was unexpected.
Originally from Lexington, Ohio, she considers herself “an adopted Kansan.”
“My faith journey really exploded in Kansas and the Kansas City diocese,” she said.
As a freshman at KU, she joined the rowing team with plans to major in chemical engineering.
Although raised Catholic, “my faith was pretty much just going to Mass on Sundays,” she said.
Living close to the St. Lawrence Center her freshman year, she expected to attend Mass there but also ended up joining a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) Bible study with other rowers.
The people there changed how she viewed her faith life.
“I remember distinctly thinking they were just so joyful, they have something that I don’t have and I want it,” she said. “And I think it has to do with Jesus.”
Eventually, she became more involved in the St. Lawrence Center and attended a FOCUS SEEK conference, where her outlook changed even more.
“I had this idea of what someone who spent time in prayer or really frequented the church was,” said Sister Kate, “[and] that was that they’re kind of boring or didn’t have the same interests [as me].”
To meet other young people who were invested in their faith but also shared other interests, “that was really a turning point,” she said.
Eventually, she began receiving spiritual direction from the AVIs (part of the community was located at the campus center at that time, but is now based in College Station, Texas, and Rome).
Balancing her flourishing spiritual life with her studies and rowing was becoming more difficult, and it was during a practice at the start of her junior year when it hit her.
“I just remember looking around at it, and I was like, it’s just not enough anymore,” she said.
She quit the rowing team and that night at the St. Lawrence Center felt “so much peace knowing that I had made the right decision,” she added, “because I had been wrestling with it all summer.
“It was like this new beginning of being able to dive in headfirst.”
During her senior year, she felt called to consider a future in consecrated life during a leadership retreat at the center but was hesitant.
“I think in the past, I had seen you need to have this type of personality, you need to act in a certain way [and] do certain things” to become a Sister, she said.
But her spiritual director helped her see otherwise, and a call to join the AVIs became clearer.
“I’ve always been really attracted to the Apostles [of the Interior Life],” said Sister Kate. “I really love spiritual direction and helping people grow in their prayer life.”
She entered the community after graduation.
She’s set to finish her theology degree in Rome and will either stay there or move to College Station.
Now as Sister Kate, she encourages other young women considering a vocation to the consecrated life to be open.
“Many times, we think of God’s will as something very external from us,” she said. “But I really believe, and I see in my own life, that God’s will and our wills become aligned.
“He wants us to be happy, and he wants those deep desires in our hearts to be fulfilled.”