Local Religious life

St. Lawrence Campus Center bids AVI Sisters a fond farewell

After nearly 20 years, the Apostles of the Interior Life will be leaving the archdiocese to consolidate their community. The order has provided spiritual direction serving students at the University of Kansas. From left are: Sister Elena Morcelli, Sister Raffaella Cavallin and Sister Ruth Kuefler. COURTESY PHOTO

by Molly Hackett
Special to The Leaven

LAWRENCE — Thankful is the greatest word echoed by everyone who walks the halls at the St. Lawrence Center here.

Over the course of the last 19 years, the Apostles of the Interior Life have faithfully served the students and greater community of the University of Kansas. The AVI Sisters are based out of Rome but also serve the Texas A&M community.

They have been the spiritual mothers that students needed as they stepped out on their own for the first time.

“I am very thankful for the experience with spiritual direction,” said Cameron Rozean, a KU junior. “I know they’re very aware of where they’re called to be and where they’re supposed to be. So, I have to trust that the Lord spoke to them.”

The decision to consolidate their community at Texas A&M and leave KU was made in order to be a better witness to the beauty of consecrated life, improve their community life and allow greater flexibility in facing unexpected challenges.

“It’s been an experience of freedom because I can’t say enough how much I felt guided by the Lord,” said Sister Elena Morcelli. “I did not want to come to the States in 2003, but then the Lord took me here. So, I feel very guided by him, and what he’s asked of me is to simply stay with him. When I stay with him, he provides everything else.”

The peace and willingness to go where they are called is not only part of their vow of obedience but is also a testament to their faith in God and the conversations that they have in prayer.

Their ability to pray and discern well is what they have been able to teach the people they encounter on a daily basis.

“So many of us are bad at prayer,” said Father Mitchel Zimmerman, director of the St. Lawrence Center. “We don’t know how to pray, and the Sisters walk right into that problem. They teach us that we can have a conversation with God — we can be affected by him — and it can make all the difference in our lives.”

Sister Ruth Kuefler is a graduate of KU and has spent the last five years pouring into students the way she was poured into at the St. Lawrence Center.

“I’m immensely grateful for every experience that I’ve had at St. Lawrence and that there will always be a part of my heart that is at home here,” Sister Ruth said. “I took my vows here as a Sister and now, to have served here on the staff as a Sister, feels full circle.”

Sister Ruth isn’t the only Sister who has been deeply impacted by her experiences at the St. Lawrence Center.

Sister Raffaella Cavallin says that one of her biggest blessings has been walking with students.

“Every journey is so different, and a lot of these blessings are private and in my heart,” said Sister Raffaella. “But I honestly wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for all the questions that I received from people in spiritual direction.”

Cat Simmons, a senior at KU, has worked directly with all of the Sisters and knows that this is all part of God’s greater plan.

“God has an amazing plan for the center as well as for the Sisters,” Simmons said. “You just have to trust in that plan.”

As the school year comes to a close, the St. Lawrence Center plans to celebrate the great fruit the service of the Sisters has borne.

“I want them to know that we’ll always pray for them and for the fruitfulness of their apostolate, for the holiness of each one of their vocations, for the good of their community,” said Father Zimmerman. “We love them very, very much. They’ll be greatly missed here at St. Lawrence.”

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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