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SMG Graduate Hopes to Enter with the Sisters of Mary Morning Star

Ashley Brooks (pictured center) with Sisters of Mary Morning Star in Lectio Divina

SMG Graduate Hopes to Enter with the Sisters of Mary Morning Star

As a St. Maria Goretti Catholic School graduate, UW-Madison and St. Paul University Catholic Center alum, and former Camp Gray camper and Summer Camp Counselor, Ashley Brooks is a beautiful example of someone who has been formed by the Diocese of Madison and the St. Maria Goretti Parish community. Ashley was born and raised in this diocese and is a friend to all she meets. She is full of life and enthusiasm, passionate about the UW-Badgers, and thirsty to know and to Love Christ more deeply. Ashley has also been living with the community, the Sisters of Mary Morning Star, for one year.

Ashley’s dream? To become a religious sister with the Sisters of Mary Morning Star.

Ashley’s faith journey began at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church where she received the sacraments and was introduced to the beauty of the Catholic faith. While attending St. Maria Goretti, she was invited by some friends to go to Camp Gray during the summers and she admired the faith of her counselors and fellow campers.

Ashley said of her upbringing in the diocese, “This strong foundation of faith I was given and helped to nurture was influential in my life: I loved the Lord. But as I got into high school, faith activities and Mass became more optional, as sports and friends became higher priorities in my life. The faith and formation I received while growing up, gave me something steady to come back to and build upon when I was searching for truth, love, stability and constancy in college.”

This is exactly what she found. Throughout college, Ashley’s faith was strengthened through the strong friendships, daily opportunities for Mass and prayer, and reliable leadership she encountered in the students, families and staff involved with the St. Paul’s University Catholic Center at UW-Madison and during her three summers working at Camp Gray.

While she loved Madison and being a part of all of these great communities, Ashley wanted to try something new. A Spanish major, she decided to study abroad in Cuba. It was there while attending daily Mass and living among peers with different lifestyles and beliefs that she first experienced the universality of prayer and of the Catholic Church in a very tangible way.

This began a true search of discovering the Lord’s path for her life.

Shortly after returning from Cuba, a friend invited her to visit the Novitiate House of the Sisters of the Morning Star in Ghent, Minnesota. During her visit with the Sisters she participated in 24 hours of silence, prayer, and bible study. She especially enjoyed discussing faith and religious formation with the Sisters while driving to and from the Novitiate House. In Ashley’s words: “I learned so much! These sisters had a sense of calm and freedom unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced before.”

After encountering the Sisters of Mary Morning Star for the first time, she attended a silent retreat led by the Sisters in the Diocese of Madison (near Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Monona, Wisconsin). That’s where she was introduced to the “School of Life” program. The School of Life allows young women to live with the sisters and to discover their community and contemplative life from within by sharing in their charism of Eucharistic Adoration, fraternal charity, the search for truth, and manual work.

Ashley decided to give the School of Life a try, and she wasn’t disappointed. According to her, “My fears of entering religious life subsided little by little and my desire to enter a contemplative community became obvious. The Lord changed my fears to trust. I understood that Jesus’ plan was accounting for my deepest desires and that in His own way, He was going to fulfill those desires.”

An Aspirant of the Labouré Society

A recent study confirmed that nearly 1 of every 2 individuals aspiring to enter religious life or seminary are prevented from doing so because of student loan debt. The Labouré Society exists to provide financial assistance and support to these individuals who must resolve education loans in order to pursue a vocation to the priesthood and/or religious life in the Catholic Church.

Ashley was accepted by and is raising funds through the Labouré Society for a class of ‘aspirants’ pursuing the priesthood and religious life. The average vocational ‘aspirant’ in the Labouré Society owes $60,000 in educational loans, and some significantly more. Most religious communities, including the Sisters of Mary Morning Star, cannot assume this debt. Ashley needs your help. 

To make a contribution to save Ashley’s vocation and the vocations of many other aspiring priests, sisters and brothers, please visit You can email her with questions or prayer intentions at

She will be sharing her testimony at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church the weekend of November 30-December 1 if you would like to meet her or come say hello.

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