Jenny Sellaro, a sophomore entering the nursing program next fall, is in the third stage (Novitiate) of formation to become a sister of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), a process that could take up to 10 years. She is excited to take her temporary vows next fall, she said.
Sellaro came from Italy, where she lived for nearly 27 years before coming to the United States. Starting at the age of 20, she did mission work with her parish for five summers in Albania — located east of Italy across the Adriatic Sea.
While working in Albania, she met a sister from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. When Sellaro told the sister she wanted to learn more about the Adorers, the sister told her that a group of Adorers was located only nine minutes away from her home in Italy.
“It took me going all the way to Albania to find out about the Adorers who only lived right down the street from me,” said Sellaro. “It was then that I felt an interior ‘heartquake,’ which called me to the religious life.”
Although Sellaro’s desire for mission work was a childhood dream, she was not always ingrained in the Roman Catholic Church.
At age 14, Sellaro left the Church. “I’ve always been a searcher. I’ve always looked for a deep relationship with God. I left the Church after confirmation and did not return until my first year of high school. I was looking for a relationship with Jesus, looking for something authentic. If I don’t meet Jesus as a person in my life then it makes no sense for me to be a Christian.”
It was Sellaro’s mother and friend that helped her give the Church another chance. Before Mass started, Sellaro’s best friend approached her with an offer to help in the service. “I (had) planned on staying at the back of the church,” she said.
Instead, Sellaro led the procession by carrying the cross. “In that moment, for the first time in my life, I met Jesus as a person. I looked at the cross through the procession, and I saw the eyes of Jesus and felt the Spirit speak to me saying, ‘It doesn’t matter who you were, all that matters is that you’re here now.’”
She has been in church ever since.
A few years later during the mission trip in Albania, she faced a tough decision.
Sellaro said, “At the time, I had been engaged for three years. It is not that I didn’t want a family, but I knew a family would take effort and attention that my heart was longing to give everybody. Ultimately, I found the ASC as the fulfillment of my interior desires.”
Before arriving in the U.S., Sellaro worked in a tuberculosis clinic in the Philippines for six months.
Now at Newman, she said the story of the university’s creation and evolution she studied while in Italy is becoming her reality. “When I was asked to finish my education at Newman, I felt honored,” said Sellaro.
She describes her experience so far as fascinating. “I’ve found a campus that takes care of me with wonderful instructors. I’m very excited to be here,” she said.
Her goals for the upcoming years are to get involved and give back to the campus. She’s pursuing nursing because nurses are pivotal for the health of communities in impoverished countries where hospitals aren’t always accessible.
As for where she will end up, she is not sure. “My goal when I was young was to work in a mission. I’m not sure what life will bring me because God has been very creative with life so far,” said Sellaro.
She is looking forward to taking her temporary vows next year and emphasized, “I’m very joyful about this choice I’ve made. I encourage everybody who’s compassionate and courageous and wants to change the world to consider joining the religious life.”