SportsLeader Conference Speaker: Sister Sara Kowal

Virtues: 

 

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SportsLeader Conference November 15-17, 2016 in Champaign, IL.

Click here for more information.

Do you have a vision of what you would like your athletics ministry to look like 4 years from now?

Do you have an intentional, strategic plan to accomplish goals in order to reach that vision?

This conference will help you and inspire you.

 
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One of our featured speakers is Sister Sara Kowal of The Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

She will be speaking on "The need for human virtue formation and how SportsLeader can be an integral part of the process."

Here is a little more about Sister Sara in her own words. If you would like to read her full testimonial click here.

I was born in 1980 and I grew up in a Catholic family – my parents and two younger sisters – in a small town in Michigan. I was good in school and loved to read. I was blessed with a good moral compass, a strong conscience, and wonderful Christian friends, which kept me along a mostly straight path throughout my teenage years. Sports was my great passion, and I was an avid and intense athlete – basketball, volleyball, softball, water polo – with dreams of one day making it to the Olympics. I was a tomboy who liked to show-up the guys and could not bear wearing a skirt. And of course, I wanted to change the world. I went through many a career possibility – veterinarian, doctor, neurosurgeon, biomedical engineer – but most importantly, I wanted to make a difference. I did not want to simply be successful or wealthy…I wanted to truly make an authentic and important and worthy contribution to history.

I went away to the University of Michigan to study medicine or engineering and to play water polo for the University. I enjoyed four years of college athletics, which culminated in a berth in the Final Four my senior year, and I ended up graduating with a Biology degree, desiring to be a teacher. Unfortunately, however, the college years had led me far from the Lord and a moral lifestyle, and I did not go to Mass in my last two years of school except when I went home to visit my parents. But the Lord, in his great and unmerited mercy, intervened in my life…

As I was about to enter a Master’s program at the University of Michigan right after my graduation in 2002, a teaching job in Miami, Florida fell into my lap, and being adventurous and liking the exciting sound of Florida, I immediately accepted and moved. However, when I stood in front of those young students for the first time, I understood very clearly that who I was as a person was going to affect them…and I did not like who I was anymore. So immediately, for myself and for those who had been entrusted to my care, I went searching for a Church and a young adult group in which to involve myself. I found a group at the University of Miami, and immediately, upon hearing the faith of the Church presented to me as never before, I fell in love with it as never before. For though I had ignored the Lord for some time, my hunger for Him and his Truth had never left me. Thanks to this group and the woman who was leading it, I began a steady and authentic conversion back to the Lord, and by the end of the year, I was attending daily Mass.

 
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After over of a year of healing and growth, I came to understand one very important truth: I had looked to another person to fulfill the deepest longings of my heart for love and happiness. I came to understand that only God was deserving of my heart and all it contained, for it was made for Him, and only He could fill it. During this time of important revelation, I was also beginning to grow closer to the Sisters of the Servants of Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I had known them before, during and after my engagement, and had always thought they were very wonderful, and I desired to know them more…but not to be one of them. In January of 2006 I went with a group of young people, led by three of the Sisters, to Washington D.C. and the March for Life. I found myself spending a lot of time with the Sisters and being very happy and joyful in their presence. Upon my return, I startlingly admitted to myself that maybe I could be happy and fulfilled being a religious sister. Their joyful witness gave me an authentic picture of religious life. It was at this moment, I believe, that my heart truly opened to a possibility I had only feared before. Soon after, the Lord’s call became clear…the Lord was calling me to be His bride; He had reserved me from all eternity to be His.

The fear and distaste I had for religious life had as its root two important causes: first, a lack of understanding of authentic religious life; second, a doubt that God and his Love could truly meet the deepest needs and desires of the human heart. I was always willing to obey because it was the right thing to do. But the Lord does not want an unwilling bride, for religious life is a response of love before it is a response of obligation. Therefore, He had to form and mold my heart to accept a proposal of Love. In fact, He formed redirected all my hopes and desires – to make a difference, to find fulfilling and perfect love, to be an Olympic athlete (now I am preparing for the spiritual Olympics) – to find their fulfillment in Him.

In prayer one day as I was struggling with my vocation, I received the following Scripture that moved me and has since been a special treasure I have reserved for my heart and vocational journey: “The Queen of Sheba came from afar to test King Solomon with her questions; Solomon explained to her everything she asked about…When the queen of Sheba witnessed everything…it took her breath away. ‘The account I heard about your deeds and your wisdom is true’ she told the King. ‘Yet I did not believe it until I came and saw with my own eyes. I have discovered that they did not tell me the half…you have surpassed the stories I heard…Happy are your brides’” (cf. 1 Kings 10:1-10).

May we not be “too greedy” and look for anything but God along to suffice. Religious life is the life of a generous heart who leaves all to possess the All in All; who leaves all men to wed God-made-Man; who leaves her own will in order to follow Love’s perfect will. May all who are called respond like the Queen of Sheba who, upon her awe, gave such a gift back to Solomon that “never again did anyone bring such an abundance…as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” Is God enough? Yes, He is…He is enough…and therefore, we must in turn give Him our all. In giving my life to Him as a free and total gift of love, I have “found the answers to all my questions” and He has transformed me and will continue to do so forever, as He fills the deepest parts of me that have borne His name and been reserved for Him for all eternity.

“Blessed are the poor of heart,” those who have not been “too greedy,” for they will “receive the Kingdom.”

“All for the Heart of Jesus through the heart of Mary.”

 
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Virtue = Strength, 
SportsLeader

 
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