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Former model reflects on return to the Church

| Friday, November 4, 2016

Leah Darrow, a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” talked about authentic love and her return to the Catholic Church in Geddes Hall on Thursday.

Darrow’s talk was sponsored by the Notre Dame Militia of the Immaculata, the Edith Stein Project and the Notre Dame Right to Life club.

After being away from the Catholic Church for 10 years, Darrow said she re-converted after a life changing experience during a photo shoot. During the shoot, Darrow said she looked into the camera’s flash and had to take a moment to recover her vision. She said that it was during this moment she felt God tell her she was called to more.

“And in this process of blinking … I see myself in my head but I had my hands cupped together at my waist and I just saw myself raise them up all the way,” Darrow said. “And I saw just up above me a shadowy profile of a man’s face and as I had my hands up, he just bowed his head in disappointment.

“And I hear the photographer snapping his fingers saying, ‘Leah, come on. Focus, focus.’ And his voice is almost like this distant echo and in my head and my heart I’m just immediately overwhelmed with this idea of my empty hands and this feeling of disappointment.

“In a second, in that same second, I hear five words that changed my life and they just said, ‘I made you for more.’”

Darrow called her father and asked him to come pick her up. Upon his visit, they went to confession, and she returned to the Catholic Church. She said she wants others to know that they are not defined by their past.

“Wherever you’re at, I want you to know God’s calling you still to more and you’re not your sins,” she said. “Do not let your past dictate your future ever.”

Darrow said each person was still a work in progress, called by God to become even more fulfilled.

“Wherever you are right now, I mean, if you’re still breathing, God’s not done with you,” she said. “God’s not done with you and he wants you to have a better life, happier life, than what you’re experiencing right now.

“And maybe you’re already like, ‘Things are pretty good,’ but I’m telling you, they can be better. They can still be better with God.”

According to Darrow, everyone is made for authentic love, given by God, which affirms their goodness.

“Authentic love is that love we’ve been made out of and made for,” she said. “It’s our origin and our destiny. Authentic love is a love we’ve been given from God the Father solidified through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Authentic love says you are very good, like it says in Genesis. You are very good and you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to give anything. It is not a girl thing. It is not a Disney movie thing. It is not a Taylor Swift thing. It is a human thing. We’ve been made for this love.”

Most importantly, Darrow says she wants each person to know how much they are loved by God.

“I want you to know more than anything that God loves you intimately and personally and this is not some Hallmark card,” Darrow said. “He is absolutely in love with you and he died for you, you alone.

“He did that for you and He wants your heart to be more and more converted to Him. He wants to invite you to conversion and if we’re brave enough, we’ll pray. We’ll pray for a conversion every day.”

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