Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from a blog by Sarah Robole to her religious community, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Robole, whose family lives in Rice Lake, and are members of Our Lady of Lourdes, Dobie, is a postulant at the convent in Manitowoc. Reprinted with permission from Robole and the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
Hello, everyone. Let me start by saying how happy I am to be part of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. It is truly wonderful to finally be living in community with all of you! My name is Sarah, and I’m the one with long hair and no veil!
Growing up, I could have never imagined that this is where I would be standing today, but now that I am here, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. My story goes like this:
I was born in Oshkosh, to my parents Brad and Kathy. I have one younger sister, Rachel, who is a senior in high school. My sister and I were raised Catholic, even though only my mom is Catholic. We lived in Oshkosh until 2005, when we moved to Rice Lake.
Backing up a bit, in May 2003, when I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Unconscious with cerebral hemorrhaging and a white blood cell count of over a million, I was flown by helicopter to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where I was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Two days later, I regained consciousness and was transferred to the regular hospital unit, where I stayed for two weeks, receiving intense chemotherapy treatments, antibiotics, blood transfusions, and seemingly endless tests and exams.
I continued outpatient treatment for three years, eventually receiving cranial radiation. In February 2006, I had my last chemotherapy treatment and I have been in remission ever since!
I began to experience conversion as I was preparing to be confirmed. I first felt that God was possibly calling me to the religious life at the first Steubenville Youth Conference I attended in the summer of 2011. I continued to feel this call throughout my senior year of high school.
Overwhelmed by the number of orders in the country, I went online to the Diocese of Superior website, where they have links to websites of several different orders. The “Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity” link just happened to be the first one I clicked on! I first met Sr. Mary Ann Spanjers and Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan the summer after I graduated, at another Steubenville Youth Conference.
In fall 2012, I attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. Although I had to leave before the semester was over due to chronic daily headaches, it was a wonderful experience and I do not regret any of it. That November, I returned home to Rice Lake, where I would eventually start working as a cashier at Farm and Fleet through the summer.
Before that, though, I came on a discernment retreat here in Manitowoc in February. I essentially fell in love with the community and that spring, I surprised everyone by applying for postulancy! In August, I found out I was accepted to the TAU program (a period of testing, absorbing and understanding to prepare women for postulancy) and I started school at Silver Lake College at the end of the month.
I have no doubt that if things in my life hadn’t played out the way that they did, if I hadn’t gone through cancer treatment and if we hadn’t moved to Rice Lake, I would not be here today.
Throughout my life, I have always been so incredibly blessed in every possible way, though it has taken some time for me to truly realize it. I give all the credit to God and none to myself.
While my battle with cancer has probably had the biggest impact on my life in the physical sense, my home parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, Dobie, has transformed my spiritual life in so many ways that I cannot describe. From the start, I was greatly inspired by our priest, Fr. Dave Oberts. He is the one who really led me back to Jesus in the midst of all my suffering, when everything in my life seemed so uncertain and God seemed so far away. This parish is like a family, and I am overwhelmed by all of the love and support coming from everyone there.
Thank you to everyone for being so kind and welcoming as I begin this new stage in my life. I have enjoyed every minute of it so far, and I look forward to spending more time with you in the near future. May God bless each of you and give you peace always!