National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated November 5-11, 2023, is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these vocations.
Miara Cash grew up attending St. John Church in Foley with her family. She has spent the last three years formally discerning her vocation. On Aug. 26, she took the steps to become a consecrated virgin in the Diocese of Phoenix, where she lives and serves as a campus minister at a Catholic high school. A consecrated virgin is someone who lives in a public state of consecrated life in the Church. She lives her life individually, under the direction of the diocesan Bishop. Miara spoke with Sarah Heidelberger for The Central Minnesota Catholic about her vocational call.
Q. When did you first begin to discern your vocation?
Miara: I was nurtured in a family environment that allowed the seed to grow. I had support from my family and, as kids, we had a rootedness in knowing our parents were always praying for us. That helped give me security of heart. At 15, I started looking into convents and going on visits and while there were many things about different communities that I fell in love with, I still didn’t feel called to them. I had a lot of talks with my dad during those years and he would listen, but also ask really good questions. One thing our parents always said to us was “Whatever God wants, we want it, too.”
Q. What did the formal discernment process entail?
Miara: Year 1 included monthly meetings with my formator. In that year, any time I did anything related to preparing for this vocation, it provided a contrast to everything else. It was when I felt most alive and knew this was what I was made for. I was soaking up the Lord and always had peace. The whole process felt normal and human.
In Years 2 and 3, I continued to meet with my formator. I lived life and worked while discerning and working toward consecration. During those years, it was about my receptivity, being open to receive and learning to surrender to my own poverty in the Lord. There were small battles to surrender to — who he wanted me to be and accepting my own humanity.
Q. Who helped you realize your vocational call?
Miara: I have had so many spiritual fathers over the years. Back home in the St. Cloud Diocese, it started with Father Gregory Mastey, who was vocation director in my teen years; spiritual directors like Father Matthew Crane, who built the foundation of my discernment; and parish priests Father Dan Walz and Father Michael Wolfbauer; and Father Doug Liebsch, the current vocation director. I was helped through my discernment in the last three years here in Phoenix by Father David Loeffler, who taught me a lot through his own vocation.
Q. Society can put a lot of pressure on young adults to fit the norms and expectations to do what their peers are doing. Have you experienced this?
Miara: There was a time where I felt like I was in a rock tumbler. I felt like I was in opposition because things didn’t fit in my timeline. I didn’t even fit in the boxes of the Church either. I had visited many convents and loved so much about them, but they were not the right fit. I continued to have a deep conviction in my heart and go through the process of surrender to dig into his “why.” He had called me by name to be intimately his, even if this vocation was misunderstood. In saying “Yes,” I get to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and see that the Lord is still present in the stretching. I get to be vulnerable in living a radical posture of receiving.
Q. What advice would you have for someone discerning their vocation?
Miara: One part of everyone’s vocation is that we are all called to become saints. We are called to become holy and to give radically in surrender to the Lord. Some ways I suggest discerning are through going to Mass, daily prayer, adoration when you’re able, praying the rosary and receiving the sacraments. As you do these things, he will reveal details as you walk closer with him.