By Sister María Isabella
I had a rather turbulent adolescence. Financial troubles forced by parents to move from Oxnard, California to Michigan where I was miserable. I did not have any friends and I felt victim of a great injustice. Eventually, I got involved with the wrong crowd and became very rebellious toward my parents. My two older brothers were not doing that great either. They began using drugs and drinking and even had the nerve to do it right behind our home. I did not have a good relationship with them.
One day I had my boyfriend visit our house after school, which was against my mom´s rules, since an adult always had to be present when we had guests. But that didn’t make any difference to me; I was determined to do as I pleased. My brother caught me with my boyfriend and I was rude to him. He reminded that having my friend there was against the family’s rules and I said, “What do you care?” To my surprise, he looked at me calmly and said: “Julie, you are my sister and I love you. I don´t want you to do wrong.” Needless to say, his reply knocked the wind out of me. I was speechless.
This, in my view, was the beginning of my conversion. It was a simple act of love on the part of my brother that made me reflect how I was living my life. What was I doing? I was disobeying my parents, setting a terrible example for my little sister, and disrespecting myself with that attitude.
Of course, my brothers were no saints. However, they were surfing on TV one day when they came across a nun in full habit. It was EWTN and they began watching her and listening to what she had to say about the beatitudes and the Catholic faith. They slowly began examining their lives and changing for the better. I remember my mom’s astonishment at seeing their sudden and radical transformation. She became so worried she thought they might need a psychiatrist. They went from being lazy, disrespectful and stubborn, to being helpful, polite, and docile. It was during that period that my brother caught me with my boyfriend and demonstrated such great love. Eventually, we began attending Mass daily and went to the Adoration Chapel.
My second to oldest brother set out on his own journey to find God, and felt the call to do something more. In 2000 he joined the Little Brothers of St. Francis and five years later I entered the Poor Clare Nuns. It took five years because I really was looking for the “perfect Catholic man” to marry, have children and be a mom, and someday a grandma. I thought I had found the right man, but he was working somewhere else and, while he was away, I prayed a lot. I began noticing a deeper longing in my heart. As much as I tried ignoring it, I could not deny it. When my boyfriend proposed marriage, I knew I could only be with Jesus.
Once I made the decision to embrace religious life, I had to discern where. My spiritual director encouraged me to visit the Poor Clare Nuns. Their life is centered on Eucharistic adoration, in the spirit of thanksgiving. The joy I saw in all the nuns during my visit was so contagious and genuine that I longed for the same joy. I entered in October of 2005. At the feet of the Eucharistic Jesus at last I have found the peace I longed for. My vocation is pure gift and I accept it with a heart full of gratitude.
Has there been an event that has made you questioned your life and made you change? Do you sometimes feel a persistent calling but try to ignore it so you don’t have to respond?