THE IMPACT OF PASTORAL LIFE ON THE VOCATIONAL JOURNEY
Religious life is a continuous discernment. My great desire is to be a Sister, but for that it is necessary to go through different stages such as Aspirancy, Postulancy and Novitiate. I will talk about my experience in the stage of conscience, the “Postulancy”. A practical example that I use to define it: women who choose the vocation of marriage go through stages such as falling in love, courtship and then marriage. For me it is the same in religious life: first we fall in love, then the courtship and then we marry Jesus Christ. The Postulancy is the stage of passion, where I fall in love with Jesus in an intense way, a deep and joyful passion. It is a stage of beautiful responsibility, with enormous challenges and learning. I also fall in love every day with the MDR family I have chosen.
When I finished the Aspirancy stage I wrote a letter asking permission to the Provincial Council of our Congregation to continue to the next stage. I confess that while waiting for the answer, I was afraid of not being approved and when the accompanying sister gave me the envelope with the consent, I took a deep breath expressing my anxiety and joy in being a postulant of the MDR. Being human and a believer, I prayed and I cried, because it is something I longed for. The unknown is always scary, I experienced in myself fear and questioning because I was already living in the future before I started. That is why several questions have arisen:
- Elisa: Are you sure of what you yourself want and are searching to be?
- Do I have something to help to enliven and do the process in a climate of sisterhood?
- Will I be able to face the challenges I will encounter?
Before so many questions that came to me, I felt apprehensive, but a voice told me: “Elisa, do not be afraid, make of your life a diva for God’s project”. Already in the formation house I thought: “Here and now begins a new stage, Elisa, write a new page in your life”.
What am I discovering during my Postulancy? I understand that to be a postulant is to live the apostolic life and as a Missionary Dominican Sister of the Rosary, it is to be among the most needy. I collaborate in the pastoral ministry of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, in St. Peter’s Center where I share the experience with the youth groups, giving catechesis and accompanying our vocations in their discernment process. “The harvest is rich but the workers are few.” You can never say: “I have nothing to give” for in reality, of which I am, I have managed to discover some hidden gifts.
A postulant preaching the retreat at Promaica (Catholic Women’s Association).
Before I entered the convent, I had already given talks and conferences to some groups, but I had never preached a retreat. The day Sister Teresa of Fatima asked me if I could preach the Promaica retreat, I thought: “My God, why me? And then to the mothers? What do I have to tell them? But still I answer yes, I could preach, because God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the elect and I knew that God would be my guide. One of the great secrets of life is to leave ourselves in God’s hands, to let God be our mentor and teacher is the best option.
I prepared for the retreat two weeks in advance, when the day arrived I knew I was ready, but I was still scared, nervous and asking for God’s wisdom. It is not easy to lead people to a deeper encounter with God, it is a gift, a grace that God gives, it is only possible when we allow ourselves to be guided and used by God. Preaching the retreat was a great challenge for me, I learned a lot. I realized that I made the right decision, there is nothing more rewarding than bringing people closer to God. The sacrifice of spending hours preparing for the retreat is little compared to the joy that flowed from the mothers’ faces waiting for the baby.
I am a happy postulant, because I feel that I have found a family that helps me to live and rediscover myself in giving myself unconditionally to God for the poorest of the poor.
Postulant Elisa da Silva Bernardo