Utica woman gets prayer, funding help for religious vocation

By: By Jennifer Willems

UTICA — Anyone who doubts the power of prayer to bring about vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life has only to look at Erin Mone.

“I’ve been to Mass all over the diocese and I always hear people pray for vocations. I feel like I’m the fruit of their prayers,” she recently told The Catholic Post. “Without the help of my diocesan family, maybe I wouldn’t have heard (God’s) call.”

Mone learned on March 1 that she had received a St. Joseph Student Debt Relief Grant from the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations (MEFV). With this assistance in paying down her debt from Franciscan University of Steubenille — and the prayers of people around the Diocese of Peoria — she will travel to France in July to begin her formation with the apostolic Sisters of the Community of St. John.

“It’s going to be an adventure,” she said. “I’m ready.”

Founded in 2006 by Corey F. Huber, a retired programmer from America Online, and his wife, Katherine, the MEFV seeks to remove the obstacles that student loans can be for individuals who want to answer God’s call. Because of the vow of poverty, people entering religious life must be free from debt.

The MEFV will make monthly payments on Mone’s student loans throughout her years of religious formation, with a guarantee that the debt will be paid by the fifth anniversary of her final vows.

Mone earned a bachelor’s degree in catechetics and theology with a concentration in youth ministry from Franciscan University in 2009.

“I FOUND JESUS”
Born in southern California, Mone said the seeds for her vocation were planted in southern Illinois.

“It was the northern tip of the Bible Belt and a lot of my friends were not Catholic,” she explained. “I decided I either had to defend my faith and learn more about it or go to revivals with them.”

She added that many people don’t know the Catholic faith and how beautiful it is.

“I wanted to learn more about it and tell people what it’s about,” she told The Post. “There’s so much beauty and freedom in the Catholic Church.”

When her parents, John and Patricia Mone, moved their eight children to Utica and joined St. Mary’s Church there, Erin Mone got involved in parish life. Not only did she teach religious education classes, but she also participated in spiritual opportunities for teens on a diocesan level, such as Peoria 2000.

Eventually Mone connected with the Brothers of St. John and their youth ministry work. She went to their summer camps and was part of their World Youth Day pilgrimages to Toronto in 2002 and Cologne, Germany, in 2005.

While Mone was often asked, “Have you thought about religious life?” she had always said, “I’m open” but “didn’t give it the time of day.”

In her encounters with the Community of St. John, which has houses for the Brothers and contemplative Sisters in Princeville, she found a different answer.

“It’s pretty simple — I found Jesus,” she said. “There was something they had and Someone that they knew. They lived simply but there was a depth that they had that I wanted.”

They also had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, which resonated with Mone.

“I attribute everything in my life, my vocation, to Our Lady,” she said. “She has had a big influence on me.”

So much so, in fact, that she consecrated herself to Jesus through Mary on March 25, 2006, and has been guided by her ever since.

Mone worked with the Brothers of St. John for nearly a year through their Eagle Eye Institute, living in the guest house of the Sisters of St. John and praying with them. After that, “I really couldn’t deny it anymore.”

“Once you hear him call you — in the married life or whatever way it might be — it’s hard not to live it,” she said.

NOTHING BUT THANKS
Now Mone is learning French (“I studied Spanish my whole life”), getting her passport in order, and spending time with her family.

“These next four months are not my own,” she said. “That time belongs to them.”

Mone said she is grateful to her parents for “laying down everything to raise me, and for baptizing me into and surrounding me with the beauty of the Catholic Church.”

She is grateful for the witness of the people of the Diocese of Peoria, who “helped form me into who I am today and gave me strength and support to respond to Christ’s call. Thank you for living a beautiful Catholic faith and for not being afraid to let Our Lord shine through you!”

And Mone is grateful for the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations. “The work they do is to help people who want to give everything.”

For more information, visit fundforvocations.org.

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