Walking with Jesus into the Heart of People’s Stories

Missionary alumna Sarina Stokes is pioneering a new position in retreat ministry in Lincoln, NE

If someone had told Sarina Stokes she’d return to Lincoln, Nebraska, after adamantly insisting it was the one place she didn’t want to be sent as a missionary, she would have chuckled.

“I didn’t want to be the person who screamed ‘GBR!’ at SEEK conferences,” she confessed.

Yet the Lord’s call to return was compelling. Now, her presence in Lincoln is allowing her to pioneer a position at Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House, serving as its Outreach and Ministry Coordinator.

It’s a position she started in early 2024 after working as the retreat house’s marketing specialist. Her day-to-day work involves planning custom retreats, offering spiritual direction and prayerfully discerning what formation is most needed. She also continues to promote the retreat house in the realm of marketing. It’s already bearing new fruit.

“I get to walk with Jesus into the heart of people’s stories,” Sarina said. “That’s where I see so much fruit and beauty, especially in spiritual direction…there’s a profound littleness in me, like who am I to be able to hear that?”

It’s also been inspiring for her to see how much the position is much needed by the diocese.

“The immediate response has been overwhelming gratitude,” she said, with many priests and laity saying it’s been an answer to their prayers.

The journey to get to her current position has been marked by an ever-deepening trust in God’s plan. Sarina grew up and went to college in Arizona, where she abundantly encountered the Lord’s mercy.

She then served with FOCUS from 2019-2021 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After her missionary years, she followed the Lord's call to book a one-way ticket to Europe and become a pilgrim.

“I just lived off my Father’s providence in Europe, visiting different religious communities,” she said. “It was incredibly, profoundly beautiful, a very intimate time with the Lord.”

She came back to the US and returned to Lincoln, which had been such “a well” for her during her time as a missionary. It was there in 2022 that she made a private vow consecrating her heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus.

“The call of the consecrated woman is to be given completely to the world, mystically united as bride to Jesus Christ,” she said. “It’s really his children that he’s bringing to you to feed, to tend, to nurture. What I do is just a call to spiritual motherhood.” 


The position at the retreat house has allowed her to serve new populations she loves, especially young women struggling with the concept of purity. She’s actually gearing up for a young women’s retreat in April, centered on the restoration of the garden of the heart.

“Your heart is the garden, it’s the indwelling of God,” Sarina explained. “This is what you’ve been made for, but there’s a place of woundedness in the feminine heart that really ruptures our relationship with Jesus.”

The “Back to the Garden” retreat is about allowing women to encounter Jesus’ mercy in that place of woundedness, like Mary Magdalen did in the garden after the Resurrection. Sarina hopes women will walk away with a newfound sense of Jesus as bridegroom and beloved.

It’s indeed her hope for all who come to Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House.

“Never be discouraged by your past,” Sarina said. “Jesus came to make all things new.”

Sarina at her private consecration in November 2022.