By Sister Ana Julia Granados Ulloa
I felt the call to serve as a religious missionary at a very young age. I had an encounter with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and was impressed by their charism, spirituality, and the diversity of ministries they served. I met them almost by accident, when they came to my house to visit my older sister to see if she was interested in religious life. It was me, however, who responded to this way of life.
I spent a year participating in vocational gatherings and discerning. I would get letters from Sister Francisca Kearns, who was the vocations promoter. I joined a youth group to continue my academic formation and at the same time became involved in the apostolate of the congregation, as a way of getting to know them better. After a few years I decided to begin the discernment process and moved to Guatemala. After my initial vows, I continued my theological formation in El Salvador while serving in the Oscar Arnulfo Romero School as coordinator of religious education and I also worked in the parish.
When I completed my theological studies, I moved to Guatemala to the mission of the Asociación de Beneficencia El Amparo in the city of Huehuetenango. The center serves abandoned children and adults with special needs. I served here for three years before going to Houston, Texas to prepare for my perpetual vows. There I worked in the residences of the elderly sisters, who enriched me with their personal experiences. Once again I returned to Guatemala to serve at El Amparo, while studying administration at the university. I am currently here, supporting the campus ministry and motivating young people to an encounter with the living Jesus. I participate in the university’s committee on social projection. As a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, I am happy to continue spreading the gospel of love as our founder, Bishop Claudio Dubuis, says, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering among the multitude of sick and needy with all conditions, seeks relief through your hands.”
I can finally say that God continues to manifest himself to mankind through gestures of love and devotion. It is difficult for a religious sister to ignore the suffering that afflicts so many vulnerable people, who are dehumanized every day. By the same token, being a religious in these times of change and turbulence is challenging, since it is necessary to respond to emerging needs in the same style of Jesus, when he was approached by people in need of healing.
Many lives have been touched and have touched me as a woman and as a religious, leaving a mark, and allowing God’s love to continue spreading in the hearts of those in my surroundings, who suffer or are joyful. Today religious life needs to be inserted into the concrete realities and not remain stagnant in past ideas or experiences. We can continue to be pioneers and evangelizers here and now.
Does the process described by Sister Julia to become a religious sister appeal to you? In which fields of social life would you like to act?