Before JVC, religious life was on my mind, but I wasn’t ready to fully admit it. JVC’s four values stood out to me because they align with what I imagined the values of religious life. By joining JVC I didn’t mean to substitute religious life, but my call to discern religious life clearly played a role in God calling me to JVC. To my surprise, my three years in Phoenix as both a JV and as a staff person at my placement site laid the foundation for what was to come.
A spiritual director once told me that if a theme keeps coming up in my life, I should pay attention. There are many “themes” that run through my JV life and my life as a Sinsinawa Dominican candidate. But can God really speak through something so small as the commonality of both experiences consisting of cars with broken air conditioners? My belief: absolutely.
"Of course, to be rooted in God, the Mass, other sacraments, Scripture, and prayer are key practice. And, as my JVC time taught me, rootedness in God also comes from paying attention to those little whispers and coincidences throughout the day. "
Amanda Zygarlicke (Phoenix 2016-17)
Following God can be terrifying because it often involves a leap into the unknown or, in Peter’s case, being asked to literally walk on water. Just like a child’s first step it can be nerve wrecking and shaky to take that first step towards Christ.
I’ll never forget the nerves I had leaving for JVC and, a couple years later, coming to admit I believed I had a call to religious life and needed help figuring things out. Both transitions had me feeling sick to my stomach, and at the same time also left me with the joy, excitement, and peace which can only come from God. In each case, as I navigated the unknown, this peace, excitement, and joy carried me through (and still does!).
There’s a piece of the story I left out: I actually applied to JVC twice! The first time I let those nerves get to me and, instead of stepping out of the boat, I placed one foot out and then retracted my application, which felt like never giving Jesus the chance to help me like He did Peter. As I was going through the application process, themes were popping up in my life all over the place. When I let myself believe God wasn’t greater than my fears, and retracted my application, they stopped. One year later, God invited me out of the boat again, I listened this time, and the coincidences came flooding in yet again - and haven’t stopped, leading me to where I am today.
Of course, to be rooted in God, the Mass, other sacraments, Scripture, and prayer are key practice. And, as my JVC time taught me, rootedness in God also comes from paying attention to those little whispers and coincidences throughout the day.
St. Ignatius of Loyola wasn’t kidding around when he stressed finding God in all things and in giving us the Examen so we can pay attention to these moments. The question is, when God speaks in the whisper of “coincidences,” will we choose to listen?
Amanda was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated with a degree in Physical Education, Health Education, and Adapted Physical Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Amanda served as a Jesuit Volunteer from 2016-2017 at St. Matthew Catholic School in Phoenix, Arizona as a K-8 Physical Education and Computer Science teacher. Afterwards, teaching at the school for two more years. She’s currently a candidate with the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa (located in Sinsinawa, WI).