Micronesian Sister Martha shares her personal vocation story with us.
It is always a grace to look back on our personal vocation story as we grow older and wiser! Within the 19 years of my religious life in Marie Auxiliatrice, I am blessed with God’s wondrous deeds through the people I encounter. I would like to thank each and every one of you for accompanying and forming me to share in the life and mission of Marie Auxiliatrice.
I used to see priests and sisters in my parish in the Pohnpei island.
God calls each one of us in a very unique way and we embrace it throughout our life. As a young girl growing up in a Catholic family, I used to see priests and sisters in my parish, around the island of Pohnpei and even at my home. One day I asked my parents if these white people coming in and out were “Peace Corp volunteers”. They told me that they were priests and sisters. What’s that? I asked them. So they started to share with me the life of priests and sisters and even some saints…..
“Come and See” program
In grade school I was already exposed to hang around with religious sisters especially the Mercedarian Sisters in Pohnpei. And in the secondary school I encountered Marie Auxiliatrice through the “Come and See” program and with Sr. Keiko who lived partly with my family learning the language and the culture. Before graduating from high school I attended a weekend discernment retreat and I met Sr. Loyola and shared with her my desire to join religious life of Marie Auxiliatrice. Since then I started to come to the convent regularlyand I was still sweet 19.
An inner desire
My response to God’s invitation is an inner desire formed and nurtured by the love and care of my parents and family members. This environment I believe is so important for me because it is the lay foundation of my life both human and spiritual. My upbringing and home environment foster who I am and remain one of the pillars in my life as a religious woman. This environment prepared me to live joyfully and happily with my community of Marie Auxiliatrice, embracing both the thorns and the flowers I experience each day. A journey of dying and rising to new life!
A journey of dying and rising to new life
As a young girl, moving into the convent of Marie Auxiliatrice was really another adventure in life for me. I was excited to explore the life of Marie Auxiliatrice with the Japanese Sisters. I had two years of aspirancy and two years of postulancy. In 1992 I began my novitiate formation in Pohnpei Community. In 1994 I joyfully pronounced my first vows in Marie Auxiliatrice at St Joseph parish Awak, Pohnpei…..it was a joyous celebration for the congregation and the whole island, bringing in different denominations of faith to witness my day. At that time, I foresaw no clear end or clear road ahead of me; I had to explore this life I have chosen entrusting it to God’s guidance through my formators, community members and people who accompanied me in my ministries. I failed at times, and I learnt to stand up and continue the journey, I learnt to be attentive to the voice of the Spirit through prayer, listening to people, through events and experiences within and around me.
After 9 years, I pronounced my final profession….the longest formation I had which gave me enough time and space to re-affirm my response to God’s love, serving him through the life and mission of Marie Auxiliatrice.
I received love and support from people coming from all walks of life
Through the journey I continually experience both thorns and flowers. For I believe I am crowned with a crown or “mwaramwar” made of thorns and flowers and this mwaramwar is so beautiful. Oh yes, I was never alone in this journey. Behind, in front, on all sides I received love and support from people coming from all walks of life. Words spoken or unspoken I could feel and am encouraged. Friends and families near or far, alive or dead, I could feel their tremendous support and love. Yes, I am still standing on the ground of Marie Auxiliatrice not of my own effort and strength but with God’s manifold graces seen, felt, smelled, touched, heard through people, events, experiences and the nature around me. His love cools and warms me throughout the journey sharing the mission of Jesus in the charism of Marie Auxiliatrice.
Let’s keep our heads up!
As I look back, my heart rejoices with the blessings of other Micronesian Sisters and with the growing number of M. A. vocations in Micronesia. As the first Micronesian M. A sister, I admit that I was not able to keep the canoe in the right direction perfectly and as expected. I did not have a clear vision of how to paddle this canoe when the waves were so strong and huge. I sometimes could not see the true Star leading me…but above all, I am so thankful that despite of my limitations and incapabilities, God never finished with me but is constantly recreating, forming and fashioning me. God never gives me tasks beyond my limits and strength, and in this I find confidence, hope, and joy in Him alone. Thank you all once again, for with you I am still smiling and look forward to more surprises along the way. Let’s keep our heads up then we can see clearly the Star, and with Him we continue to paddle the canoe together to the place He has prepared…….
“Kalahngan oh Kaselelie“
Sr. Martha Marie Joel