by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
Eventually, Sister M. Karolyn Nunes’ prayers worked. It just took a couple of years . . . and some tears.
Each “house community” at St. James Academy in Lenexa spiritually adopted a seminarian for the summer of 2014.
Sister M. Karolyn’s house was assigned to pray for Luke Doyle. But her students inadvertently left the entire month of July uncovered, so she wound up praying for him that entire time.
A year later, she ran into Doyle in a stroke of God’s providence at St. James. Sister M. Karolyn had been assigned to teach there three years prior, and Doyle took a job teaching theology after he discerned out of the seminary.
“We met right after he started at St. James,” said Sister M. Karolyn. “The very first question he ever asked me was: ‘So . . . what is it like to be a bride of Christ?’
“I immediately thought to myself: ‘What’s it like to be a weird seminary dropout who would ask a question like that?’”
So began a beautiful friendship rooted in Jesus Christ.
And all those prayers Sister M. Karolyn had offered up for Doyle? They didn’t go unanswered, as he was ordained a priest in 2021.
“Just to know that I have a spiritual mom and I have a very close friend who is doing the same thing in her own world in her own way is beautiful,” said Father Doyle.
Father Doyle takes comfort “knowing that I can always find a place of refuge in my friendship with Sister M. Karolyn, and I don’t have to hide, but I can be held, to be seen, to be loved, as I really am.”
A devotion to Our Lady of Fátima helped both friends discern their vocations, making the World Youth Day pilgrimage extra special.
“After I left seminary formation, the church was approaching the 100th anniversary of the feast of Our Lady of Fátima,” said Father Doyle. “I reconsecrated my life and vocation to Mary.
“Looking back on what’s happened in my own personal story since then, that really was kind of a doorway that opened for the Blessed Mother to be able to just help me open myself more to Jesus’ presence and the love of the Father in my life.”
Sister M. Karolyn, meanwhile, had visited Fátima when she was 19. She was studying abroad with Franciscan University of Steubenville, grappling with making her faith and Marian devotion her own.
“That visit to Fátima was the start of some deeper conversion in my own heart,” she said. “As I was going down the square [on] my knees, I looked up and saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the middle of the square with his arms wide open.
“I realized that I need to go to Jesus through Mary, and through that, a deeper conversion began in my heart and continued to grow and brought me to a place of greater freedom and acceptance.”
Freedom and acceptance in the spiritual life allowed both friends to pursue and fulfill their vocations, and they believe their friendship is a witness to a countercultural lifestyle that encourages men and women to foster relationships centered on Jesus Christ.
“We live in a culture that’s all about posturing — posturing and performing,” said Father Doyle. “We live in this lie that in order to be loved, we have to look like we have it all together.
“For me, the sign of a true friend is somebody that I can allow into my life and not see the performance but actually share the hot . . . mess that is Father Luke Doyle.”
To view the full album of photos from World Youth Day, click here.