Sr. Madeline Elking, PES
My name is Sr. Maddy Elking, I’m 25 years old and I’m a novice beginning my third year of religious life in the order Pro Ecclesia Sancta.
I was born and raised in St. Louis into a beautiful family. My parents sent my brother, sister and I to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque for grade school, and after high-school I attended the University of Mississippi where I studied Public Policy Leadership and German.
In High school and college I wanted to have all the things that I thought that would make me happy and in this pursuit for “happiness”, I strayed really far from the Lord. I thought that I could have a happy life without the Lord and that being close to Jesus was a hindrance to being happy, because I thought if you followed Jesus, you had to follow a bunch of rules which meant you weren't free to be happy.
During those 8 years or so I was living in constant tension with myself, because deep down I knew that true happiness could only be found in the Lord, but I wasn’t willing to give up what was keeping me far from Him. I felt at that time of my life that I had everything I ever wanted but I wasn’t content. I was restless and was always searching for that next thing that I thought would make me happy. For example, If I got a new outfit I loved, I would be content for 5 seconds before I would look for something even better and this pattern continued with other things too. I restlessly sought the next party, the next place my friends and I could travel or the next good picture I could post on Instagram. I would try to tell myself that I was happy living this superficial life, but my heart revealed that I was made for more.
One morning during my senior year of college the Lord made it very clear to me that real happiness was nowhere but in Him. I woke up really early after having gone out the night before and I couldn’t sleep. I remember I felt really restless so I got up and started pacing around my apartment while my roommates were still asleep. I found myself just standing in the living room experiencing this biting and stinging of conscience that I had been ignoring for a long time, but it was so intense in that moment I remember being so selfish and begging the Lord “Lord, leave me alone, please! Let me do what I want - don’t you see I’m just doing the same things that everyone else around me’s doing? Except they all seem to be happy and not experiencing this guilt. Take away this guilt so I can have peace and live how I want to live."
I think that was a big moment in my conversion because after processing that encounter with the Lord I realized He was allowing me to feel so broken because He wanted me to see that He was my Joy and nothing else! After that, I started to let God enter into my brokenness and received His love and mercy in the Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist which opened my heart to Him. I received a grace to remember a desire to be a Sister that I first had when I was younger. I remember praying, “Lord, if that’s what you want for me I’ll do it for you but my one condition is that you’ll have to take me to the Sisters because I don’t know any.”
And the Lord answered my prayer!! He brought me up to MN for a missionary program called Teach for Christ, which is how I met the Sisters. And When I met them I made the connection that I had prayed just a few months before telling Him to bring me to the sisters He wanted me to be a part of and it left me thinking, is this a joke?
But really, when I met the sisters, I saw in them what I always wanted, which is that deep Joy that can only come from the Lord. And I started to spend a lot of time with them, because I felt the love of God when I was around them. It was clear that the Lord was calling me to join PES as a religious sister and I could only say yes!
I’ve never been this happy before and now that I’ve found this joy and happiness in God, I really want to help others find it, too! I’m currently growing in my love for the Lord and deepening my spiritual life in religious formation and I want to continue dedicating my life to serving God and others.