From postal service to serving God —
local woman discerns calling to religious order

By Becky Aubut
Anchor Staff

ATTLEBORO, Mass. — This is not a conversion story or a vocation story, but a love story, explained Kimberly Todd, a communicant from St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro, and novitiate of the Poor Clares order. 

However, Todd’s journey to contemplating a life as a Sister began with a conversion for her own sister. Todd’s father was Catholic, while her mother was Protestant. When Todd’s sister asked her to be a godparent for her child, not only did Todd convert, so did her mother and sister. While attending the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults when she was 18 years old, Todd said she “got the gist of the faith but not the nitty-gritty.”

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Todd attended college and became a teacher. During this time she met her husband, and though she admits she saw the traditional “red flags” of abusive behavior, Todd married him. 

As the abuse continued, Todd said she knew she “had to get out of the Marriage,” but was reluctant to break her vows. With the Church and its teachings still in her heart, she turned to a priest for advice. 

“I couldn’t go on as the abuse got worse, and the priest actually told me that nothing was going to change, and that I needed to leave him,” she said. “I was surprised to hear a priest say this. It was a difficult time in my life. I started to go to Mass daily, and on Sundays. I joined the choir because I loved to sing.”

A choir member suggested Todd attend a Cursillo retreat and that was a “springboard” because once Todd had experienced the Cursillo retreat, “that’s when I really embraced my faith more. I started volunteering at My Brother’s Keeper in Easton; I started taking these classes that were offered at my church.”

Todd filed for divorce, and began finding joy in attending Mass and her volunteer activities.

“I felt like I was in love. I had no desire to date anyone. I had this joy, and I couldn’t understand why,” said Todd. “Then one night I was picking up my Rosary to pray, and I felt this ‘aha’ moment and [realized] I’m in love with God. It seemed so silly to me at the time, but now it makes sense.”

That feeling kept growing inside, the “magnetic pulse,” as Todd called it, kept pulling her towards “something but I didn’t know what it was.” 

It took three years for her divorce to be finalized, and her Marriage was later declared null. For the next few years Todd continued to pray and said she felt her calling was to pray for people.

“I know that I’m supposed to pray for people. A few friends of mine knew that I was trying to figure this out, and they knew a community that was trying to become an order, that they had these special healing services. I found out who they were and met with them,” said Todd.

There were initially two Sisters living at this particular convent, and when one Sister left, Todd was invited to live there to assist the remaining Sister. 

“I loved the life. All the prayers we prayed. We prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. We prayed to the Blessed Sacrament exposed. That’s what I loved, that life. When it didn’t work out and they had to close the convent, I missed that life,” said Todd of her six-month stay.

Todd also discovered a discernment house for women, and was put on a waiting list for a year, ultimately living in the home for two years. 

“It’s for women who believe they’re being called to a religious vocation, or for those who are trying to figure out if they’re being called to Marriage or the single life, or even a Consecrated Virgin — all these different vocations,” said Todd. “It’s a house you can live in, pray as a community, but still go to work. We had retreats at the house. It was just a great, great way to live in a community with women and to really be sure.”

Todd said she loved praying in community with others, and began to visit different religious communities but felt “an extraordinary peace” with the Poor Clares in Jamaica Plain, Boston, a cloistered monastery of roughly two dozen Sisters. The Poor Clares have been in the Boston area for 100 years ( 

In 1212, in the city of Assisi in Italy, a young noble woman by the name of Clare di Faverone di Offreduccio gave away her inheritance and left all she had in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus according to the example of Francis Bernardone and his friars.

Soon other women joined her. They became known as “Poor Enclosed Ladies” who gave themselves to the love of Christ in a contemplative form of life, and to prayer for the Church, the world, and anyone in need. Later on, after Clare’s canonization the Sisters were given the title, “The Order of St. Clare.” Through the centuries they became known as “Clares,” and then as “Poor Clares” because of the poverty in which they lived.

“I loved praying to the Blessed Sacrament exposed. I could [happily] spend five hours in an adoration chapel,” said Todd. “It was definitely a process. Every time I visited there [Poor Clares], it felt more and more like home to me, and they felt more like family to me.”

During these years of discernment, Todd knew that her debt from student loans and her divorce needed to be dealt with prior to her entering any order. She struggled to pay off the balances while being underemployed, all the while thinking she would never be able to eradicate her debt, thus never being able to enter any religious order.

“I just didn’t see that light,” said Todd. “When I divorced, I moved. I was thinking in my mind there’s no way I could be debt free. My friend told me to have faith. I was a tutor and then Title I funds were cut, and I lost that job. I was going through so much at the time, and I prayed for the intercession of Mary to help me find a job to help me pay off my debt. 

“Interestingly, I was at the Poor Clares — unemployed — I checked my emails one night, and I had an email on the feast of the Assumption, inviting me to an interview on the feast of the Queenship of Mary. It was for the post office,” said Todd, who could not remember when she applied, but found out later she applied on the day of the feast of the Visitation. “I was like this is amazing! Mary did intercede for me all the way through this process.”

Being a member of the postal service was a tough and physical job, said Todd, but a good portion of her day was spent alone. So Todd said she would take that time to pray the Rosary, pray Divine Mercy Chaplets, pray for the people she delivered to: “That’s the beautiful part of being a mail carrier, to have that time to truly contemplate,” said Todd, of the job she began in fall of 2014.

Another step in Todd’s journey found her going on and taking a 90-minute questionnaire, helping her narrow down her choice of religious order based on her answers. She kept visiting different monasteries, including traveling to Michigan, but she kept coming back to the Poor Clares. 

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“I just found the most peace there,” said Todd. “I visited there three or four times, and went for an extended stay because they’re discerning me as well. That [stay] was in February [of this year], and then it was decided. I knew I was home. I did not want to leave.

“I felt such joy. It’s not me. It’s never been about me. It’s about God. I know this is what God wants me to do. He is the One Who gives the joy so we know we’re on the right path.”

In the months leading up to her entering the convent as a novitiate, Todd has been embracing the words of St. Clare: “St. Clare says, ‘Give to the poor.’ The Gospel says, ‘Give to the poor.’ I can’t believe how many clothes I have. I have to tell you it was exhilarating throwing so many bags of clothes into a charity bin. Last week was the hardest because I sold my car, and I’ve been using my dad’s 25-year old truck to get around,” said Todd. “The thing is, I feel free to let go of the possessions, and say ‘God, here I am.’”

At the time of this interview, Todd was in the final stages of packing before entering the monastery; “I’m taking it day by day. I know that God will reveal to me more and more if this is to be my life. You go through a novitiate and a postulancy. You’re still discerning. I won’t take first vows for another 10 months. It will be two years before I take my final vows. I’m giving it to God. I know that it’s not going to be perfect because no lifestyle is perfect, but I know that this is where I want to be and I feel so much joy and peace. They’re like family to me, and I will grow with God and my Sisters.”

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