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.”
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.