Religious sister follows vocation from Poland to Stuart

The term ‘vocation’ is defined as a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. For Sr. Jadwiga Drapala, director of faith formation at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Stuart, a vocation goes beyond the limitations of an occupation. “I come from a farming family in Poland. I am the oldest of four children and I helped my parents care for the farm and my siblings. Although I loved all the things we did together as a family, I knew there was more for me than to remain at home,” said Sr. Drapala.

Sr. Drapala first felt called to a religious vocation when she was in fifth grade. Lipnica, the little village in southeast Poland in which she was raised, had only one priest. One day, this priest received a visit from a friend of his who was a missionary priest. “The missionary just beamed with the joy of living his life in service of God. I could see the lightness in his walk and the purpose with which he spoke of our Lord. I wanted to be like him,” recalled Sr. Drapala.

After the missionary’s visit, Sr. Drapala began to research and visit various religious communities in Poland, hoping to find the right fit for her future vocation. She explained that in seventh grade a classmate wanted to visit the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ the Lord in Krakow, Poland. She accompanied her friend and soon found herself captivated by the community and the sisters’ prayerful lifestyle. “It’s funny to think that my first impression of the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ the Lord was that I didn’t like their habits at all! I told myself there was no way I would ever put that on, it was so unbecoming. But after two days spent with the sisters learning about their way of life, I discovered it wasn’t about what they wore, but who they were,” reflected Sr. Drapala.

At the age of 14, Sr. Drapala joined the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ the Lord after obtaining special permission from her parents and the motherhouse to become a novitiate. “I was the youngest girl to join the community at that time,” revealed Sr. Drapala.

Since taking her final vows in 2004, Sr. Drapala has traveled a long way from Poland. The motherhouse transferred Sr. Drapala to a convent in Stuart, FL in 2006, and has since worked as the director of faith formation at St. Joseph parish. Guiding students and young adults through their faith formation has been a fulfilling blessing for Sr. Drapala, who knows how influential it can be to have a model of faith in one’s community. “No matter what age you are, God can call you. I hope to be the instrument through which God calls more people to do His will,” said Drapala.

Sr. Drapala, although a young woman in age, expressed that she has matured in a spiritual way that is beyond her years. “I see God differently from when I first entered the order to now. My relationship with Him is intimate and runs deep within me. Looking back, I see now how He has placed certain people in my life at the exact moment they needed to be, molding me through these experiences. One ‘yes’ led to another ‘yes.’ I had to make myself like a little child, trusting my Father in all that he had planned for me. One thing is for sure, I never thought I would be living in the U.S. doing His work!”

However, Sr. Drapala is still learning more about herself through the challenges of religious life. “As someone who serves the community so regularly, it can be difficult to juggle the needs of others with the demands of my religious community. Oftentimes, people will ask me to attend an event, or organize a charitable fundraiser or visit with them at the community center. With so many things going on, they can hinder my dedicated prayer hours or vows of poverty or obedience. It can be a struggle to decline their good-intentioned offers, but I must put my spiritual well-being first. It is a blessing to be needed and loved, but there is a time for all things,” stated Sr. Drapala.

But even in her times of imperfection, Sr. Drapala recognizes that it is God who makes her whole. “I am like broken glass—instead of sweeping me into the garbage—God takes the pieces and transforms them into stained-glass. He is what holds me together and makes me shine by His light,” said Sr. Drapala.

For World Day of Prayer for Vocations on May 12, Sr. Drapala encourages any young woman curious about religious life to listen to God’s call and visit a religious community that interests them. “I didn’t do anything extraordinary by visiting the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ the Lord. I started small by simply supporting a friend’s interest, which amazingly became mine. In today’s age, the internet is an incredible resource—start searching and go and see what the Lord has in store for you.”

 

Did you know?

Many religious communities offer tours of their motherhouses and encourage young women to visit with sisters to learn about their way of life. Sr. Tarianne DeYonker of the Adrian Dominican sisters is a director of vocations for this religious community. She facilitates visits for the Adrian Dominican sisters all over the U.S., as well as guides young women discerning religious life through the vocations process. This past March, Sr. DeYonker organized a “come and see” for the Adrian Dominican sisters in the Diocese of Palm Beach. She shared that on average about ten women—typically in their late 20s—visit the community every year, exploring the facilities, ministry and payer life of the Adrian Dominican sisters. “If a young woman has any inkling of entering religious life, I encourage her to take a chance and visit a nearby convent just to see what is available there. I’ve walked with women who have a deep love for service, prayer and adoration and are seeking something more than just an active parish life. It is incredible to see how they benefit from just a simple visit,” said Sr. DeYonker.

Sr. DeYonker writes a weekly blog about vocations called “A Sister Reflects.” In it, she offers advice and guidance for any young women looking to walk the path of a religious vocation. You can read Sr. DeYonker’s blog at adriandominicans.org.

Many religious communities offer tours of their motherhouses and encourage young women to visit with sisters to learn about their way of life. Sr. Tarianne DeYonker of the Adrian Dominican sisters is a director of vocations for this religious community. She facilitates visits for the Adrian Dominican sisters all over the U.S., as well as guides young women discerning religious life through the vocations process. This past March, Sr. DeYonker organized a “come and see” for the Adrian Dominican sisters in the Diocese of Palm Beach. She shared that on average about ten women—typically in their late 20s—visit the community every year, exploring the facilities, ministry and payer life of the Adrian Dominican sisters. “If a young woman has any inkling of entering religious life, I encourage her to take a chance and visit a nearby convent just to see what is available there. I’ve walked with women who have a deep love for service, prayer and adoration and are seeking something more than just an active parish life. It is incredible to see how they benefit from just a simple visit,” said Sr. DeYonker.

Sr. DeYonker writes a weekly blog about vocations called “A Sister Reflects.” In it, she offers advice and guidance for any young women looking to walk the path of a religious vocation. You can read Sr. DeYonker’s blog at adriandominicans.org.