Bringing sacred healing to hurting communities
By Susan Flansburg | VISION Vocation Network for Catholic Religious Life & Priesthood
THE THING ABOUT God’s call is that it nags you until you respond. Then, it nags you more until you get it right. Sister Karina Conrad, C.D.P. knows plenty about both experiences because it took time for her to get it right.
In the crosshairs
It was July 4, 2022. Conrad was relaxing in the Chicago-area home she shares with another Catholic sister. It had been a long week at the two behavioral health clinics where she served. No fireworks or parades were on her schedule. She planned to enjoy the quiet. At the moment, she was scrolling through Facebook posts on her phone.
Then she saw the breaking news: An active shooter was mowing people down at the nearby Highland Park parade. Videos from parade-goers showed families running, belongings scattered, as they tried to escape the attacker. Carnage and chaos were replacing what had been a happy celebration with floats, American flags, candy, and patriotic music.
“I got an urgent email asking for Spanish-speaking therapists. I prayed, ‘God, what do I do?’ I felt God answer, Go. They need you. I’m with you. I had never helped someone through this kind of trauma before. I’d never thought I would need to. You never think a shooting is going to happen in your backyard.”
Conrad waded into the crosshairs of shock, grief, and a landscape of human lives lost, devastated, and forever changed. Although she’s still processing the experience more than a year later, she’s certain of two things: It affirmed she is on the right path, and it deepened her gratitude that the right path—and place—finally materialized.
It just took much longer than she had anticipated.
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Pictured: Sister Karina Conrad, C.D.P. volunteering during an alternative spring break event in Baltimore. (Courtesy of Sister Karina Conrad, C.D.P.)