I was born in South Dakota on January 7, 1986.
I graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Humanities and Catholic Culture and Theology.
I love life and my Lord. Talk to me about indie music and the Milky Way and trees that wave at you, and I will talk to you about sacramentality and wonder and the marvels God has done. If I could do anything for the rest of my life, it would involve lots of laughing and listening and loving. And eating good Indian food and spying out beauty and baking you something wonderful in the kitchen.
I first thought about religious life when I was fourteen. God had certainly already been at work in my life—I knew that God existed, loved me, and that it was important to pray. However, the summer between 8th and 9th grade was the first time that I think I really experienced and knew that love in a real way (they say the longest journey is sometimes from your head to your heart). I was at a diocesan camp and remember just being set on fire (I wish this happened literally – probably would have made for a better story). Not only did God exist, but He loved me! Kelly Deutsch! And had I been the only one to live on this earth, He still would have become man and died for me, for all my faults and failings. He still would have instituted the Eucharist so as to be present to me in a tangible, “earthy” way. I remember going back to high school wanting to tell everyone about how AWESOME being Catholic was. (Friends: “Do you know that Jesus LOVES you??!”) It was quite the catalytic experience.
It was also at this camp that I remember feeling a deep calling on my heart to follow the Lord unreservedly, to be His bride. It happened during adoration. I remember being prayed over and running back to my friend Audrey and telling her “I think I’m supposed to be a nun.” It all took off from there.
I went through high school with varying desires. The one unwavering desire I had was holiness. Though vocationally, I sometimes tried to convince myself that I was really called to be the bride of that one guy in math class, I never once questioned my calling to sainthood. I knew this was our universal calling. I knew that each of us had been placed on this earth to know, love, and serve God so we could experience the joy He has for us in this life and the next. So I started making methodic changes to my life: if this was my goal, I had to start living like it. I began to pray regularly, with Scripture, journaling, good spiritual reading–to the point that my senior year I was praying an hour a day and going to daily mass. I tried to seize any opportunity I had to learn and grow; for once one has had a taste of the “Bread of Life”, one cannot help but long for more.
Immediately following high school graduation, in the summer before I began college, I felt a stronger tug.
I remember sitting in adoration and being filled with this ridiculous joy (Could God really love me that much??). It was here that the Lord renewed His calling on my heart: Kelly, come be mine. I was stunned. Who, me? For real? Um… okay? It was almost more of a question than an acceptance. I don’t know what this entails or how or when things are going to roll out, but Lord, if you want me to be Your bride, I accept! I know Your plan is what will bring me the greatest joy.
So I went off to college, thinking I’d study four years, graduate, join a convent, and live happily ever after. Perfect little fairy tale, right? Of course, it wouldn’t work out quite so smoothly, but that was my vision for life at age eighteen. Studying at Franciscan allowed me to grow by leaps and bounds. There was a whole world of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty waiting to be discovered and explored (I knew it!)! I devoured my studies and loved having the challenge to not only think critically, but also how to unite that process with our supernatural life. Faith and reason. Using your intellect and will to order your life according to your salvific end. I felt like someone flipped on the light switch and life was beginning to make sense.
Along with growing in intellectual understanding of who I was, why I was here, and where I was going, I also grew in practical knowledge. As my prayer developed, so did my desire to serve, to love. And it is only then, I discovered, that reality and you make sense: when your head knowledge collides with your heart knowledge in some crazy, fruitful commingling, and all you have learned and all you have loved are incarnated in the actions of your life. Spirit, intellect, will. Prayer, thought, and action. They provide the vital rhythm of life: withdrawing from the world to spend time with the Source of Love, Goodness, Truth, Beauty; and then going forth to share that which has been given. It is what we were made to do, that which makes us truly human, truly alive.
I found this lived in my life of studies, prayer, and ministry. I had already been in love with learning and prayer—but now I found myself gripped with the conviction of how deeply each person desired to be loved. To be known. To be understood. I knew that was one of my deepest desires, and through encountering other people, one learns very quickly that these are common to all. I wanted to love that girl who sat alone in the cafeteria. I wanted to love the popular, center-of-attention crowd, because I knew they just as deeply wanted to be loved. I wanted to love and affirm the men I met in the Belmont prison and the broken families at the soup kitchen. Each person had their own unique story that was just waiting to be told and understood. I wanted to let them all know that there was Someone who understood them, loved them, knew them through and through… and if I could be His hands and heart, my purpose, my prayer would be fulfilled.
I heard about the Apostles for the first time…
After I graduated college, with no convent on the horizon, I spent a year doing “relational ministry” with the poor with a small Catholic organization called Simple House. I moved to Kansas City with them, and was looking for a new spiritual director. Someone recommended the Apostles to me, whom I had never heard of—but when I did a Google search and saw they didn’t wear habits, I dismissed them. However, when I began working in the Kansas City area the year after and found myself surrounded by all these really holy young people, I began to question where in the world they were all coming from. They said “We’re part of this lay movement with a group of sisters called the Apostles of the Interior Life—have you heard of them?” I decided that if the fruit was this good, I had to give them a chance. I began spiritual direction with them and joined Samuel Group and got to know them better over that year.
My first impression was
“I don’t get you.” I was so confused by such a different type of lifestyle—different from the normal orders and convents I had known and visited. But as I got to know them better—or rather, when I finally had a pivotal conversation that made me understand who they were and what they did, I was a bit taken aback. Could this really exist? The Apostles seemed like everything my heart had ever desired. It was as if I happened upon a community I had founded myself in some half-forgotten dream, with a rule including all the things I liked to do for fun: ample prayer time with my Lover, studying Truth and Beauty, evangelizing on the streets, having spiritual conversations, and spending time in community (laughing, playing games, cooking together, pulling pranks, etc.). You can imagine how delighted I was to realize this wasn’t just a dream! The Lord really does want to fulfill all our desires: that is precisely why He has placed them on our hearts.
I began the experience with the community
In August of 2010, after I quit my teaching job in Kansas. I did a “year of discernment” spending half of the year in Kansas City at the Provincial House, and half of the year at Texas A&M. I continued to be amazed at how closely the Apostles matched my desires, and how simple and human their style of life was. Now, as of fall 2012, I find myself at the house of formation in Rome, where I am in my second year of philosophy. Next I’ll do three years of theology, and as long as the Lord continues to confirm this path, I will take vows in 2015.
I want to be an Apostle of Wonder! To share the joy and hope that I have found.