By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
For eight years, Jasmin Tone dreamed of going to law school. “I had been planning on doing this since I was a freshman in high school,” said Tone, 22.
But as she attempted to fill out her law school applications during her senior year at the University of Iowa last year, she struggled to explain her interest in attending law school. “I sat in front of my computer for two hours trying to think of what to write and by the end only had a few words.”
It was a question that had once been easy to answer: she wanted to help children. “I planned on going into family law to focus mainly on adoption law,” Tone said.
But as she approached graduation, it seemed her love for children might be pulling her in a different direction.
After struggling to write the law school application essay, she had a heart-to-heart conversation with a fellow member of the university’s Newman Catholic Student Center. “She asked me how the application process was going. After telling her everything that had been going on, she pointed something out to me that I didn’t want to admit to myself and was avoiding the thought of. She said, ‘It doesn’t sound like you want to go to law school.’” With some hesitation, Tone realized her friend was right.
She hadn’t considered a career outside law until her acceptance into Newman Center’s Fellowship program at the end of her junior year at Iowa. She was asked to mark three areas of interest in which to focus her campus activity-planning efforts. She felt an inexplicable, yet intense pull to work with faith formation. She went with her gut instinct and was assigned to that focus area.
One of her fellowship tasks was to assist in the creation and execution of Newman Center’s undergraduate retreats. She found joy in planning the 2016 fall undergraduate retreat. She enjoyed it so much that she considered the possibility of working toward a theology degree and working in faith formation if, for whatever reason, she wasn’t able to get into law school. Still, it was just a “backup plan” at the time.
Later, as she sat at her computer trying in vain to answer the application essay question, she considered that maybe God’s plan for her all along was to go into youth ministry, not law.
After talking to her friend, she called her mother, Diane, the Youth Ministry coordinator for St. Mary Parish in Fairfield. “I talked about it with her, and that night I made the decision that would change my life. I decided to go into youth ministry and receive my MA in theology.”
That decision, she said, “was one of the hardest and most satisfying decisions that I have ever made. It was hard because I was stubborn about staying on the path that I had been on for eight years. I had convinced myself that it was the right path and felt that there was nothing that would change my mind. … However, after making the decision, I instantly knew it was right. The best way I can explain the feeling is like I was jumping out of an airplane with a parachute. It was scary and thrilling, but at the same time I have never felt out of control or unsafe.”
In that moment, she put her full trust in God. “All the reservations I had disappeared.”
Looking back, she believes her previous aspirations to a law career were all part of God’s bigger plan for her. These aspirations brought her to the University of Iowa and to Newman Center, where she discovered her love for faith formation.
Involvement as a Totus Tuus summer liturgy day camp leader for youths in the Diocese of Davenport gave her some experience as well. “It made me passionate about learning about the faith and the church. I didn’t know how much I loved seeing others’ faith grow until I did Totus Tuus.”
A member of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant, she is now back at home working on an online masters program through Catholic Distance University. She plans to substitute teach as she works toward her degree. “This will allow me to get some practice working with the ages that I will be working with in youth ministry.” Additionally, she plans to start a young adult ministry at her parish.
Youth ministry work is her ultimate goal, but she is also open to doing campus ministry or teaching theology at the high school level.
Following God’s call to a specific vocation can be tough, especially if it conflicts with initial life goals, Tone said. “However, if it is something that God wants of you, it only takes a moment of trust and a lifetime of listening to know if it’s right. My story also shows that there are no wrong paths, only detours.”