Physical challenges don’t hinder Lori Kemp’s faith

By  Anne Marie Abraham, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 6, 2013

VANCOUVER - Almost every day for the last threeyears, a determined, wheelchairboundwoman has travelled fromher home in downtown Vancouverto Holy Rosary Cathedral for dailyMass.

Lori Kemp, who has cerebralpalsy, has always known shewanted to live a religious life. Hergoal was to become a woman of theChurch, but the nearest conventsequipped to meet her needs werein the United States, and it wasn’tfeasible for her to travel south atthe time she originally planned.

“I knew somehow that I wouldfollow some kind of vocation,”Kemp said. “Consecrated virginwas the closest thing I could getbecause of my physical limitations.”

Kemp found out what it meansto be a consecrated virgin fromthe Internet and instantly knewthat was what she wanted to do;she wanted to be consecrated bythe Church to a life of perpetualvirginity in the service of God.When she suddenly received rosesafter days of praying she felt shehad her answer.

Kemp vowed to be a consecratedvirgin in a summer ceremony atHoly Rosary Cathedral.

Her journey began in January2010 when she announced herdecision to Archbishop J. MichaelMiller, CSB, after the New Year’sDay Mass.

“I had a dream where March 9was circled on my calendar,” saidKemp.

The next day she calledRob Mascitti, the archbishop’ssecretary, who suggested that exactdate for a meeting about becominga consecrated virgin with Miller atSt. Augustine’s Church.

“To be ‘consecrated’ is a specificresponse to this baptismal call,”Miller said in his homily at Kemp’sconsecration, “a response markedby the radical call of the Gospel, ofwhich the commitment to chastitylived in celibacy for the sake of thekingdom is a precious and invaluablesign.”

Before Kemp was consecrated,she was required to spend threeyears under the guidance of aspiritual director. Sr. Edna Walshagreed to take this role, and sheand Kemp formed an instant connection.

“We were on the same page,”Kemp said.

Although Kemp was not borna Catholic, she knew from the ageof four that she wanted to live areligious life. She officially becamea Catholic in 1985.

“Because it took so long to gethere, I feel that a big hole has beenfilled,” Kemp said.

Her handicap has held her backfrom many things, but she will notallow it to hold her back from whatshe loves the most.

“What limits me is not physicallimitations, but the limitationssociety puts on me,” Kempexplained. “We are not just peoplewho suffer, we are unique specialindividuals who have talents andgifts like everyone else.”

Kemp said people often lookat the wheelchair before they seeher. She wants to change this. Shewants people to realize that she isnot her disability; her disability isonly a part of who she is.

“One of the reasons I becamea consecrated virgin, besidesanswering my calling, was to provethat disabled men and women canplay an important and intricaterole in the Church,” said Kemp.

Kemp has recognized thatwheelchair-bound people arehindered by limited accessibility.Confessionals are not bigenough for them to enter andstairs are major obstacles thathold them back. The Church hasbeen lacking a great asset in thedisabled because of the lack of accessibility.

“Spirituality comes to peoplewith all shapes and sizes, abilitiesand disabilities, and they all havea right to explore it,” Kemp said.“God made us the way we are fora reason.

“This is not the end of myjourney,” Kemp said. “I firmlybelieve that women who need assistancecan and should be in theorder.”

Kemp still intends to becomea nun, but until then she plans todo community service, offer freecounselling to those who need itand work to make the communitymore user-friendly.

(B.C. Catholic)

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