Sister Lisa Marie Shatynski, TOR, a dorm chaplain at Franciscan University of Steubenville, said a dream about her ex-boyfriend played a significant role in starting her discernment to religious life.
Shatynski, who took her first vows in 2020 and is currently chaplain of St. Thomas More and Saints Louis and Elizabeth residence halls, said her vocation story began when she told her dream to her spiritual director while she was a junior at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“I had this dream where I saw this image of my ex-boyfriend, and I had a desire for him, longing for that kind of love,” she said. “Then it switched, and I saw this religious sister I had known at that time walking into a church, and there was light eminating from her, and my heart lit up, (and) I thought, ‘I want that.’ It was everything I desire in this life.”
After this point, she started her discerning process. She and her spiritual director read “Discerning the Will of God” by the Rev. Timothy Gallagher, which explains three types of discerning.
The main type Shatynski focused on was discernment of the movements of her heart, paying attention to what happened when she thought about different vocations and being attentive to those feelings.
It wasn’t until later that she found the Franciscan TOR sisters.
“I actually didn’t know Franciscan University existed when I was in college,” said Shatynski. “It wasn’t until I joined their community that I learned about Franciscan University, and (I) have been here for two years since I made my first vows.”
Shatynski has always loved St. Francis for his connection with animals. After she watched a movie on his life, she was drawn to his radicality and zeal for God.
“My parents were always afraid that I was going to throw all my money into the air and give it to the poor people,” she said. “He just lived poverty so completely that all that was left was God, and there was real beauty in that.”
The first time she visited the Franciscan TOR community, Shatynski said she felt the Lord telling her it wasn’t time yet, so she committed two years to campus ministry at Florida State University.
Coincidentally, a Franciscan TOR house had opened up near by at the same time, allowing her to get to know the sisters better and discern with them while she ministered. In Florida, Shatynski was a postulant for one year and a novice for two years.
Shatynski is currently not trained in spiritual direction, but she instead provides spiritual guidence to residents at Franciscan University. She said she hopes to start training to be a spiritual director soon.
“My whole purpose of being here is to meet with people,” she said. “I could do this for the rest of my life. I love journeying with other people. It’s so amazing to see how God is working in other people’s lives, and to be in every meeting with a student is a sacred encounter. I get to feel the Lord’s heart for the other person. Just having those moments for a greater awareness of how God is moving is such a gift. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
In addition to being a dorm chaplain, Shatynski is advisor of Rosa Mystica household.
Shatynski’s hobbies include animals, nature, bird watching and hiking. Students can catch her jogging outside around campus. When asked to describe herself she said she is quiet, yet goofy and always down for adventure.
Her office hours are Wednesdays from 7:15-9:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 1:30-4:30 p.m. and 7:15-9:30 p.m in St. Thomas More Hall. In Saints Louis and Elizabeth Hall, her hours are Monday 1:30-4:30 p.m. and 7:15-9:30 p.m. and Fridays 1:30-4 p.m.