A 2007 Gibault Catholic High School graduate recently became a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, joining a community she was introduced to in high school.
Sister Sarah Harbaugh first met women in that community during her time at Gibault, when she had a couple teachers in that organization.
“It’s really where I began to know the Adorers,” Harbaugh said of her time at Gibault.
Those teachers encouraged Harbaugh to consider joining the Adorers, and her time in student activities and her religion class during senior year also pushed her that way.
So, she decided to enter the first stage of becoming a sister.
“It’s really unique to each individual that comes through,” she said of the process of joining the Adorers.
For her, the first stage was discernment, which included her personally deciding if she wanted to become a sister and what community she wanted to join.
Once she decided to join the Adorers, Harbaugh spent a year of discernment with them.
After all that time, she determined it was the vocation for her.
“It comes down to it’s just where I was called by God,” Harbaugh, who grew up near Hecker, said. “I took the time to discern what God was calling me to be and to do.”
Specifically, Harbaugh said she chose the Adorers because their mission of courage, compassion and commitment sees them work in fields like education, senior care and social services.
“What I like about the Adorers is we have a wide variety of ministries that we do,” Harbaugh explained before noting that they often work with poor and marginalized people. “That’s the people I connect with.”
After she finished her time of discernment, Harbaugh became a candidate, living with the sisters but still providing for herself financially for about 2.5 years.
During that time, she worked as a teacher and lived in Wichita, Kan., where the Adorers have a location.
She returned to this area next when she became a novice.
In that stage, Harbaugh lived in a house in Belleville and lived the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before taking them.
“It was a time to learn” about the vows and history of the Adorers, Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh spent the first of her two years as a novice in Belleville before going to Springfield, Mo., to work with the homeless population and a campus ministry at the local university.
She was back in Wichita working when she was called back to this area because of the pandemic.
She entered her current stage, which is called temporary profession, when she took her first vows the second weekend of August at St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in Hecker.
She planned to take her vows at the ASC Center in Ruma, where the Adorers began in the United States in the mid-1800s, but the location changed because of the pandemic.
Still, Harbaugh said taking her first vows was monumental.
“It was a very powerful moment for me. I had been nervous leading up to it all day and all week because of COVID,” she said. “But the moment when I stood in front of the church, I could feel the power of God within me. It was just a ‘this is it. This is where I’m supposed to be’ moment for me.”
Harbaugh has now moved back to Wichita, where she will earn her degree in social work and look for employment while living with the sisters.
“I’ll keep myself busy with ministry and studying,” she said.