If it’s ok, I’d like to tell you a little about myself and my call…just so you can know where I’m coming from.
My parents had 16 children…I’m the 14th. Since they had 16 children, I thought I could do more. At age 5, I remember telling my mother I was going to have 17 children. Later, that number changed to 21. At some point in my teens, I realized I would only be able to find one man who would allow me to have all the children I could ever want. His name is Jesus. I often said to myself that physically, I would never be able to bear all the children I want to have. I felt my heart was too big. That was not a statement of grandeur, but of a deep feeling.
In high school, I finally met the Salesian Sisters. I loved their joy, their sense of humor, their ability to make faith real, and to BE real. I loved to see them play volleyball with us, and just hang out. Love for God for the Salesian is not relegated to prayer life that is multiplied, but infuses the heart of life and our very breathing.
Salesians, in fact, until the last few years, found most of their vocations among their students. I think this is a testament to the quality of the presence of the Sisters among the young, and the power of the witness of their lives in community and for God.
So, I inevitably began to think about religious life. But who wants to be a nun today? That’s not cool! That’s not fun! So I got busy about NOT being a nun. I dated a few guys throughout high school, and every time I would come home, I really can’t explain this part, but there was an emptiness, like I wanted to say, “That’s all?”.
By Senior year, I realized that I would have to make a decision, and after a roller coaster of yes/no, I decided that I would have to give religious life a go, and here’s what made up my mind: I went to babysit for a couple. The woman was 34. They had two boys, nice kids, and fun to be with. The lady asked me once, “So, what are you going to do after high school?” I already had a standard answer to this question, and so I provided it. I said, “Well, I’m not sure, I guess I’ll just go to college and study to be a nurse, or something.” She couldn’t believe it. She kept saying, “What? You’re gonna be a nurse? You should work with kids! My kids love when you babysit; they count down the days until you come!” So I told her – and I will never konw why I told HER – I never told anyone this huge secret, but I said, “Well…I know it’s funny, but I have these great nuns at my school, and sometimes I think of joining them, but I’m not sure.” (Little did she know that the next thing she said would make up my mind~!) So she said, “Hey, that’s funny. I used to have great Sisters at my schoo, and I used to think the same thing, and sometimes, I STILL WONDER IF THAT’S WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE.” So, needless to say, I did NOT want to wind up 34 and having missed the boat on a vocation…I entered that year!
And it was excellent. That little something that was always unsatisfied and unsettled wound up being still and happy, and my heart was full, as it still is very much today.
I have taught for most of my religious life. Kids spend most of their day in school, and Salesians are all about kids, so… I taught everything from Kindergarten to High School…loving the work with the munchkins the most. After school hours were always full with teaching drums, guitar, calligraphy, twirling, drama clubs, arts and crafts, videography, crochet, basketball, and all sorts of other activities. For the most part, the Sisters take their skills and share them with the young during the afterschool hours…
Our “family spirit” is a spirit of joy. I hope it’s contagious enough for you to catch it, as I did!