vocation stories | SARAH
My name is Sarah Elizabeth Burns
I was born… I was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, on October 23, 1988, but I have lived in many other places: Ontario, Canada; Texas; North Carolina; Alabama; and Kansas!
I graduated… from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a minor in English Literature.
I love my faith, music, mountains, laughter, books, traveling, adventures, and conversations with old and new friends. I 100% believe St. Ireneaus when he says that “the glory of God is a man FULLY ALIVE” – and I try to live my life like that! In my free time in the warmer months, I love to hike and enjoy the beauty of nature; when it’s cold, I am often found curled up with a hot beverage and a good book. I love treehouses and in my ideal world I would live in one, but I have been told that convents are not often found in trees.
I met the Apostles for the first time in the summer of 2015. I was a leader for our young adult Catholic ministry in Topeka, Kansas, and asked the Apostles to come give a talk for us. I had heard about the AVIs many times before but had never met them. I was quite skeptical to be honest! But then when they came, I was caught by surprise in how struck I was, not just by the talk itself and how it broke open prayer in a way I truly connected with and understood, but also simply by their presence. There was so much peace and joy! I wanted that. I couldn’t get them out of my mind and started to learn more about the charism. Through their kind invitations I slowly began coming to events and getting to know them better, and during this time, the Lord also started opening my heart to consecrated life. After a beautiful pilgrimage experience in 2016 I realized that my heart’s movement towards consecrated life and belonging only to Jesus was not going away, but rather getting stronger. I started spiritual direction with Sr. Michela soon after. I begun praying more as the AVIs teach, with daily meditation, daily Mass, and increasingly frequent time in Adoration. I realized that it was very natural for me to start to share these things I was learning from the AVIs with friends and mentees and that it was very life-giving. There were more and more parallels with my heart’s desires and the Apostle’s charism.
I have always been a girl with a million dreams, so maybe it makes sense that only the Lord Himself could catch my gaze and hold it fast. I could not escape my heart’s longings to be with Him more and more! However, He has characterized my discernment with great gentleness and freedom, and He was patient with me as I took small but important steps forward. I looked into a few other religious orders, but none of them felt like home the way the AVIs did. The AVIs focus on addressing the spiritual poverty of our age through the charism of formation and prayer pulled on my heart in a particular way that I did not experience with the other charisms I considered. I participated in Samuel Group and the program’s focus on interior freedom and listening to the voice of God gave me the final push I needed to “jump off the cliff” and leave my career behind in pursuit of God’s dream for me! So, on one otherwise inauspicious day in April 2018, I walked out of work for the last time and drove to Prairie Star Ranch for an AVI Family retreat. This began my experience as an AVI volunteer – my last stage of discernment before entering formation. Once I had taken this step my heart quickly received much more clarity and courage and I asked for an application in August, after the gift of spending time with the community in Cortina, Italy. This time in Italy was a great grace as I recognized the interior freedom and individuality of each member of the community, while at the same time recognizing the deep unity the community shares through the charism. I recognized there was a place for me- the real me- with the community, because the way the AVIs pray, live, and do apostolate brings out the truest parts of myself. I entered formation on October 7, 2018, the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
I desire and hope to grow into the woman the Father dreams of me being, to love Him and follow Him with a whole and a free heart, and to help other people encounter Him and His heart full of healing and merciful love along the way.
I began the experience with the community… on October 7, 2018