Sister Myriam of the Annunciation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles returned to Wellington, Aug. 2 for a visit to her home parish, St. Rita Catholic Church. She completed her faith formation and received the sacraments at St. Rita Parish, where she first felt the call to religious life.
While visiting her family in Wellington, Sister Myriam provided insight on her vocation journey to the parishioners of St. Rita Church. She recalled that it was during one of her confirmation preparation sessions through the parish that opened her heart to vocations. One session focused on the topic of vocations and a video called “The Fishers of Men” posed questions about being open to religious life. Reflecting on these questions made Sister Myriam somewhat afraid, but at the same time, curious.
Participating in the parish youth group laid a faith foundation for Sister Myriam, which was a driving force of her falling in love with the Church. Upon entering college, she became very active in the Catholic Gators at the University of Florida. It was there that the door to vocations, previously opened in high school, became more of a reality. The many friendship she formed in the Newman Club gave her the courage to continue her discernment and attending daily Mass gave her the space she needed to hear God’s voice. The desire of placing her life at the heart of the Church became stronger.
When asked what made her decide to join the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart, Sister Myriam explained, “I chose Carmel because of its deep love of prayer. The urgency and totality with which the Carmelite saints sought union with God deeply inspired me. As Fulton Sheen once said, ‘I love Carmel because I love its love for Jesus!’”
Sister Myriam is presently at the start of her second year as a temporary professed sister. The full process takes ten years until a sister makes her Perpetual Profession of Vows. Her order is considered an active-contemplative community, whose charism is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended in active apostolic service of the Church, seeking to promote a deeper spiritual life among God’s people through education, healthcare and retreats.
Sister Myriam explained that the Carmelite mission begins with personal and community prayer, which overflows into joyful witness and loving service of God’s people. Her day begins with early rising for morning prayer, where she engages in the Divine Office and a period of silent prayer. This is followed by daily Mass and then breakfast.
After their morning meal, the sisters are sent out to their apostolate where they work for the glory of God at their assigned place. Sister Myriam is presently assigned to a school in Los Angeles where she ministers in education to young children.
At lunchtime, the sisters meet in the chapel for a time of silent reflection on how God is working through their lives that day. Afterwards, they return to their apostolate. Sister Myriam explained that “apostolate” comes from the word “apostle,” as they are sent in mission as apostles to serve the Church.
When they return in the late afternoon, the sisters pray the rosary, followed by a half hour in silent prayer and evening prayer from the Divine Office. They cook and share dinner together, then enjoy “family time” with various forms of recreation such as games, hiking and crafts; they share their time together like any other family would. They end their day with nightly prayer where they reflect on the second half of their day. Overall, the sisters spend about four hours in prayer each day.
Sister Myriam reflected on the vows she’s taken entering into the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. She takes a vow of poverty, owning nothing as everything belongs to the community. She wears a habit every day as an external sign of whom God has called her to be. The habit also serves as a daily reflection for others to see the Church in how the sisters dress, bringing their attention back to God.
Sister Myriam’s face lit up with a huge smile as she explained that she “absolutely loves that she belongs totally to Jesus.” She stressed that she is not perfect, but she loves working hard at living a virtuous life in daily surrender to our Lord.
“When I took my first vows, I became the bride of Christ,” said Sister Myriam, “and each day I am consumed with the goodness of God’s unfathomable and unconditional love and a richly deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, as well as a devotion to our Blessed Mother. His daily faithfulness allows me to renew my vows as a lifelong transformation in Christ, living each day as I give my whole heart to the Lord.”
The young woman said that she misses her family as she is separated from them but, this is a fruitful sacrifice. Through her faithfulness to God’s will, many blessings have come upon her family and she is comforted in knowing that her family is in such good hands as they are embraced by God.
In the last ten years, St. Rita Parish has witnessed four young adults enter religious life. Sister Myriam’s advice to anyone who might be discerning a religious vocation is to “not be afraid to take this step.”
“You will never be outdone by the generosity of God as he gives himself to you each day,” she continued. “God is faithful and as you build your confidence in his fidelity, you will be able to move forward with gratitude, walking together with him on your life journey with grace. You will discover your worth is not in the job you do but, rather in who you are as a daughter or son of God.”
To learn more about St. Rita Catholic Church in Wellington, visit saintrita.com or call (561) 793-8544. For more information about a call to vocations, contact Consuelo Minutoli, administrative assistant for the Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Palm Beach, at 561-775-9552 or email@example.com.
By Donna Roselli, special to the Florida Catholic