Vocation Story: A Heart Called to Serve, Glorifying God

samdiago02

Sister Anthony Mary, Sister Mary Katerina and Sister Maria Crucis

The Desires of my Heart

My love for God and His Mercy was deeply planted in my heart from a very young age.  Growing up, it was the lives of my patron Saints, Saint Anthony of Padua, the Virgin-Martyrs Saints Cecilia and Lucy, the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and my loving family that inspired me to live a life that would be pleasing to God.  I learned from these Saints and my grandparents the joy of a life of true hope for the salvation of souls from sin and eternal damnation.  Prayer for peace, reconciliation and justice for those who suffer were always my petitions.  Both sets of grandparents taught me the importance of prayer and living virtuously.  They were all exiles of the Cuban Revolution which occurred in 1960.  Their Cross of having to leave their country by force with a surrender to the providence of God always touched my heart.  My Cuban family instilled in me the priorities of a good education, Faith and a desire to succeed.  These values and the support of my family led me to pursue studies in Government with the goal of going to law school and perhaps become a lawyer or a judge to bring order to a legal system.  My devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and daily recitation of the Rosary began as a teenager.  This relationship with Our Blessed Mother would lead me to follow more deeply Our Lord Jesus.

 

A Call to Serve God and Neighbor with All of My Heart

As a student in College, I thrived in an academic environment that was oriented to community service.  I served in Student Government all four years of my undergraduate program with great joy and satisfaction.  There was never a moment that I was weary of doing good.  The joy that I received from serving others continued after my graduation as I served in my Parish, and it was one of the telling signs of my vocation to Religious Life.    There were special Priests the God provided who helped and encouraged me to discern a vocation to become a Religious.

As I was growing in my prayer life, I began to go to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and frequent Confession.  My thirst grew for Church history, theology, and to know the teachings of the Faith that I knew were true.  I began to realize that this understanding and deep love for God were gifts that had a special purpose for the life of others.  From the time I was a teenager, I was “pro-life” and never condoned abortion, but as I grew closer to God in my prayer life, I realized I had an inner strength and conviction to fight for life.  Respect for human life and the protection of the unborn were worth dying to self.  There was a zeal in my heart to pray for and to defend with all my might the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.  This conviction to defend life and each soul’s need for Redemption, the restored relationship with God the Father, would be what would thrust me into the arms of God with great trust in Him to die to myself, to surrender my life to Him by striving for perfection.  To choose a path to be holy, to be truthful to Jesus Christ who died for our salvation would be my greatest happiness.

At the age of 24, serving as a Catechist for my Parish, I was helping lead the youth ministry retreat.  At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as I received Holy Communion, I was given the grace of surrendering myself to God my Father and Creator.   He showed me the immense love He has for me as His daughter, a love so great that He sacrificed His Only Son to save me and all His children.  He sacrificed His Son to redeem us from all sin.  As I received the Body of Christ, I experienced God’s call to give my entire being to Him as His Spouse, to make a gift of myself for the Truth to bring the light of Christ into a very dark world (which is depicted by the Mercy Cross).  Brought to my knees, I sobbed and as I received Holy Communion, I gave Him my entire heart with complete trust.  This call surprised me, and yet I could only say, “Yes.”

The grace of humility (embodied in my Patron Saint, Saint Anthony of Padua) gave me the courage and trust to visit the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, MI, where I found “home.”