When I was in about third or fourth grade, my brother BJ and I decided to make "OSP" -which was our code word for "Our Special Place." We made a secret clearing in the woods where we would go by the creek to fish and another on the hill where we would pretend to live in nature and a third underneath the basement steps where we would try to read the entire Bible (we never got through Genesis.) This is where I would say I see looking back the first inklings of God's grace calling me to a hermit life. A Canonical Hermit according to Canon Law is:
Can. 603 §1. In addition to institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the eremitic or anchoritic life by which the Christian faithful devote their life to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through a stricter withdrawal from the world, the silence of solitude, and assiduous prayer and penance.
§2. A hermit is recognized by law as one dedicated to God in consecrated life if he or she publicly professes in the hands of the diocesan bishop the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond, and observes a proper program of living under his direction.
It was at this young age that I began to feel called to some sort of hermit life -some sort of life with increased prayer and penance, silence and solitude.
In 1999 when I graduated from the University of Notre Dame I decided to spend a year in South Texas as a 'year of discernment' at a hermitage. The life that I lived for the six months that I stayed was one of increased silence and solitude, prayer and work and penance. The Lord really began to call me to Himself at that time.
I went on the following year (2000-2001) to return to the world in a missionary sort of way, volunteer teaching at a border school in south Texas as I prepared to go to Eastern Siberia to found a Catholic Mission with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. During the two years I lived in this mission in Russia (2001-2003) much of my life was taken up with prayer and times of silence and solitude. From 2003-2011 I spent my time split between service in the missions and periods of intense solitude living and praying as a hermit. From 2011-2014 I lived as an official Diocesan Hermit following a Rule that I wrote and was approved by my Bishop -and which I try to adhere to as much as possible (in an adapted form) even after having returned to the world with a normal job. I did mission work and I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a nanny... but my heart's true vocation is that of hermit and I pray that the Lord can find a way to provide for me to return to this life fulltime someday.
The following podcasts thoroughly explain my hermit vocation and the pictures beneath simply give a snippet of my life in solitude with God over the past 20+ years.