A St. Albans native who used to conduct research on school-based violence/drug prevention and positive youth development programs with the National Institutes of Health has made her perpetual profession as a School Sister of Christ the King in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sister Marie Amata D’Amico, daughter of the late Joseph Jacob D’Amico and Lorraine Laferriere D’Amico of St. Albans, has, for the last three years, been teaching full time in the fifth and sixth grades in a Catholic school near Lincoln and has prepared students to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. She will continue to teach the fifth and sixth grades.

Her perpetual profession took place Aug. 1 at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.

The order’s apostolate is Catholic education: Members serve as teachers, sacramental coordinators and administrators in the diocesan K-8 Catholic schools and provide support to the Diocesan Education Office. During the summer they provide a week-long catechetical program similar to Totus Tuus for children in parishes throughout the Diocese as well as some neighboring Dioceses. To help nurture the faith and vocational discernment in young women, they offer prayer and discernment retreats, Come and See visits and other opportunities for women of various ages to pray and spend time with the sisters.

“Families and individuals foster vocations simply by living the Catholic faith fully and witnessing to the joy that naturally flows from such an authentic life,” said Sister Marie Amata, who attended Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. “A religious vocation is a Divine call: The Father chooses an individual, the Son invites, and the Holy Spirit gives the grace to respond.”

She embraced her Catholic faith as a child, but beginning in high school and through college, she found it difficult believing that it was possible to follow that faith fully in the current world. “After experiencing a decisive reconversion in my 20’s, I embraced the faith in a more profound way than ever before and, in many ways, learned it anew,” she said. “It was the witness of young, joyful people living the faith authentically who convinced me that our Father in heaven is goodness and love and His plan for our lives brings true happiness and freedom. From this point of understanding, I was open to whatever God wanted for my life. In fact, I found that what I wanted was Him.”

She attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She then attended the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and received a master’s degree in public health. Later, as a sister, she attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

In the time following her reconversion, she began attending daily Mass, praying the rosary daily and spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “In these hours of intimate communication with Jesus, I heard the call to religious life,” she said.

As the desire to give herself completely to Jesus grew, she began visiting religious communities. “God made it very clear that He was calling me to this [School Sister of Christ the King] community. Our charism of total belonging to Christ the King resonated deeply within me and put words on the desire I had been experiencing throughout my discernment,” she said. “Our spirituality and way of prayer, largely formed by St. Ignatius’ Discernment of Spirits, has been a source of deep healing and intimate communion with God.”

For those who are discerning a religious vocation, Sister Marie Amata — whose home parish is Immaculate Conception in St. Albans — advises asking God the Father to reveal Himself and getting to know Him as infinitely good and infinitely loving. “When we know from personal experience that our God truly is love, we can believe that His plan for our life will bring profound joy and fulfillment,” she said. “The Church provides every means necessary to follow God’s will faithfully.”

While discerning a vocation, she suggests deepening one’s life of prayer, especially by making holy hours in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; going to confession regularly; and receiving Holy Communion as often as possible.

“It also helps to have a ‘wiser spiritual other’ – such as a spiritual director – who can help you understand what God is doing in your prayer and in your heart and to help guide your discernment,” she added.

Eventually it will be time to visit different communities.

“The best way to learn about religious life and the spirit of a particular community is to experience it firsthand,” she said. “In His characteristic gentle way, Jesus extends this invitation to His future apostles in the Gospels: ‘Come and see.’”

For more information about the School Sister of Christ the King, visit cksisters.org.

For more information about vocations in general, email Father James Dodson, vocation director for the Diocese of Burlington, at jdodson@vermontcatholic.org.