Run­ning

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RE­LI­GION -

peo­ple know who we be­long to,” Lopez said. “We see it as an out­ward sign of our in­ner com­mit­ment to our vows of poverty, chastity and obe­di­ence.”

That doesn’t mean, of course, there aren’t mo­ments when she doesn’t wish she could wear shorts.

“We are fully hu­man, and we do sweat,” she said.

Lopez was one of three chil­dren who grew up in ru­ral Colorado with her nom­i­nally, but not de­voutly, Catholic fam­ily.

After she grad­u­ated from the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado, Boul­der, with a de­gree in bio­chem­istry, Lopez found work in Den­ver as a cli­mate sci­en­tist and spent a few years dat­ing and seek­ing “the nat­u­ral, nor­mal pur­suits of a young pro­fes­sional.”

But when her grand­par­ents

died and she lost her job to an eco­nomic down­turn, she found she had the time and the de­sire to con­tem­plate God. She went back to the church and be­gan at­tend­ing Mass al­most daily.

“I re­al­ized I was look­ing for a kind of hap­pi­ness that ul­ti­mately has noth­ing to do with money or ma­te­rial things,” she said. “I had deep in my heart a call to serve God’s peo­ple.”

She felt called to go on a mis­sion to one of the coun­tries served by the So­ci­ety of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trin­ity, and she hoped it might be “sav­ing ba­bies some­where” such as Belize or Mex­ico.

But God had other ideas for her, she said, and she was in­stead as­signed to a reser­va­tion in North Dakota where she did fundrais­ing. Though it wasn’t a very glam­orous as­sign­ment, she fell in love with the nuns and priests she worked with and de­cided to com­mit her

life to serv­ing God.

Three years ago, she was sent to Seat­tle where she lives with four other sis­ters in a for­ma­tion house for nuns and nuns in the mak­ing.

“This city has done won­ders for me,” Lopez said. “It’s here that I’ve learned we don’t have to com­pete with any­one or com­pare our­selves to each other. We don’t have to be some­body we’re not. God loves us for our­selves.”

She has found, too, that while she started run­ning for the phys­i­cal ben­e­fits, she has reaped de­vo­tional ben­e­fits as well.

“I use it as a time to med­i­tate on the way God is work­ing in my life that day,” she said, “and I pray that the Lord will put his bless­ing upon the peo­ple I en­counter; you never know what dif­fi­cul­ties they may be hav­ing. Be­ing out­side, sur­rounded by God’s good­ness, is a per­fect time to pray.”

SEAT­TLE TIMES (TNS)/ELLEN M. BAN­NER

Novice Mary Kelli Lopez crosses a Seat­tle street while on run last month. She has found, that while she started run­ning for the phys­i­cal ben­e­fits, she has reaped de­vo­tional ben­e­fits as well.

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