Waiting to join Little Sisters, nurse says God ‘wanted me here’
The coronavirus pandemic changed the course of Amanda Krow’s discernment of religious life.
Krow has considered life as a Little Sister of the Poor. If there hadn’t been a COVID-19 quarantine, the parishioner of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore would have left for a pre-postulancy semester of religious studies before spending a month in a Little Sisters community elsewhere.
The registered nurse described what has happened instead as a blessing. Since January, she has both lived and worked at the Little Sisters of the Poor-sponsored St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville.
Krow, 27, who grew up in Lancaster, Pa., and in Denton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, had already earned her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology when she realized three years ago that she wanted to care for sick humans.
Soon after she moved to Baltimore to earn her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Krow settled in at the basilica parish and joined its young people’s group. She became more involved in parish life, joining in volunteer work, attending Mass and praying more – and thinking differently about her future.
“My whole life was thinking who I was correlated with my job and career,” Krow said. “I never asked myself, what about religious life? Or asked God.”
She turned for guidance to the rector of the basilica, Father James E. Boric. He knew of Krow’s work as a nurse at Hopkins and her desire to serve the church, and said that the connection to the Little Sisters of the Poor seemed obvious. The sisters were gathering at the Basilica for the order’s 150th anniversary celebration Mass, and Father Boric invited Krow.
“I just wanted to introduce her to the sisters,” he said. “They really hit it off well.”
Krow said she was immediately touched when she met the Little Sisters for the first time and learned of their devotion to the elderly, their vow of hospitality and their deep love and joy.
Still, she took her time responding to their invitation to visit their home. Once Krow did, she began to volunteer and then took part in prayers and meals.
Seeing the sisters in action impelled her to join. She was touched by how they accompanied people at the end of their lives.
“It pulled at my heartstrings,” Krow said.
“I fell in love with the Little Sisters of the Poor right away.,” she said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
By July 2019, she was convinced she had a vocation.
“I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” she said.
Krow sees God’s plan for her unfolding in several of the steps she has taken: deciding to become a nurse, moving to Baltimore, going to Mass at the basilica and, finally, meeting the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“He still led me to where I knew my vocation would be.”
She quit her position on the medical surgical floor at Hopkins to accept one at at St. Martin’s. Krow didn’t just get a job. She moved into one of St. Martin’s independent-living apartments, where she got to know her aged neighbors.
“They’re such a great bunch of people,” Krow said of the residents.
That was in January 2020. Eight weeks later, the pandemic forced the home into a strict lockdown to protect the residents and the staff. Krow said it also means she won’t be able to officially enter the postulancy until 2021.
She hopes to spend an immersive month in a Little Sister’s house in the Bronx; her pre-postulancy studies would be spent at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., next fall, all part of an eight-year process toward becoming a Little Sister of the Poor.
She doesn’t mind the delay. Krow enjoys working and living among the sisters and the elderly residents of St. Martin’s. There have been challenges – she hasn’t seen her family except for a short visit for her grandfather’s funeral – but there have been joys, too.
And she remembers she might have missed this opportunity if she hadn’t taken the job in January.
“Everything worked out as it should,” she said. “He (God) really wanted me here.”
This article appeared in The Catholic Review.