Thank you, Sister. I think, especially nowadays, it is a great act of courage and faith to commit to religious life. So, I'm wondering how old you were when you felt the calling to become a nun, and what kinds of obstacles (personal and external) did you have to overcome to enter your vocation?
My first awareness of Religious life was in high school. I went through high school operated by the Pauline Sisters. I always had a religious tendency, having spent most of my free time from school, with my grandmother when we were sent on vacation during school breaks. She was very pious and I grew up with memories of her piety and Catholic devotions. She loved me greatly and was very fond of me. I thought of being a nun, playing roles of nuns with a towel wrapped around my head. But the thought came and went, as often happens with teenagers. I felt a strong pull every time I heard Sister on the radio (they had a radio program) reading the Psalms or other forms of prayers. When I went to nursing school we did not have Sisters but I lived in a dormitory with the other nursing students. We had our chapel and I would often spend my free time, mostly at night, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I wrote an essay required as a project, "Missionary Nursing" and I had in mind Sisters who were nurses. I had my normal circle of friends but looking back at my younger days I was also very sheltered because my father was strict with socials and school.
The first turning point in my life was when our graduating class attended a Group Retreat. One of our classmates, Tom, was a member of Opus Dei and he invited an Opus Dei priest to give the retreat. It was a very memorable retreat and I remember experiencing God as the God of Mercy. Father spoke about the Sacraments especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, about how God loves us. I realized how little I have loved God the way He loved me. I felt that I was only Catholic because I was born Catholic, and that there was so much more that I could have given Him and have not. It was the beginning of an intense sacramental and devotional life for me. I was walking one day when I discovered a Carmelite Monastery not far from the Opus Dei Study Center. I entered and met a nun who made a deep impression on me. I felt a strong call to be a nun. I received the brown scapular of Carmel and understood in my heart that I am to be a Carmelite. The Blessed Virgin Mary was the one who led me to Carmel. My parents, especially my father, were very much against it mostly because it was cloistered. But despite his opposition and tensed family situation I entered the monastery when I was 21. In the course of the three years stay with the nuns, my father never visited me. My mother, when she came, was constantly crying. I began to experience interior struggles and in the end I left the cloister. My father came to pick me up. During the years that followed, I was purified and my vocation was tested sorely. But my resolve was strong and the thought of marriage never occurred to me. I took a private vow of chastity. I continued to discern with other communities but the thought and attraction to Carmel was very strong. I eventually found my present Community and celebrated my 15th anniversary as a Perpetually Professed Carmelite Sister recently. I understood that my vocation was to care for the sick and the dying as a Carmelite Religious. It was interesting because that was exactly my former Mother Mistress said of me, "God wants you to care for people. The Bride is not for us." I still maintain a strong contact with my Discalced Carmelite family and I always give them the credit with my religious formation. I have written a more extensive vocation story in this blog and so I'm just giving you the tidbits.
God draws souls to Him in mysterious ways. I realized that when we remain faithful to whatever, and wherever, He is calling us to that He will not abandon us. He gives the desire and He leaves it up to us to prove to Him our resolve and determination. I also realized that God has His own time table and that we have to submit and abandon ourselves to His plan. Mary is truly Mother. My vocation is owed to her and she truly called me to Carmel.