PALM BEACH GARDENS | You may have noticed the poster at your parish from the Office of Vocations and Seminarians showing the men who are discerning their call to the priesthood for the Diocese of Palm Beach. At the bottom of that poster are photos of local women who are serving the Catholic Church in consecrated life.
Consecrated life includes men and women who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Most of them live as members of religious or secular institutes, but there are also consecrated virgins, hermits and members of societies of apostolic life. World Day for Consecrated Life, which is marked Feb. 2 and tied to the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, was established by St. John Paul II in 1997. The special day of recognition will be celebrated in parishes Feb. 3-4 honoring those who have made commitments to consecrated life.
Women from the Diocese of Palm Beach and their home parishes who are featured on the vocations poster are: Sara (formerly Jennifer) Addeo of the Daughters of Merciful Love in Madrid, Spain, from St. Joseph Parish in Stuart; Sister Katie Flanagan, Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, St. Rita Parish, Wellington; Sister Maria Sagrario (formerly Yori Diaz) of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, St. Rita Parish; Sister Isabelle Maina, Franciscan Sisters of the Third Order of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola; Sister Myriam of the Annunciation (Nicole Falzone), Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, St. Rita Parish; and Simi Sahu, consecrated virgin, Emmanuel Parish, Delray Beach.
The diocesan Vocations Office has been informed of other women in consecrated life, including Sister Tonia of the Heart of Jesus Borsellino of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, whose home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Boca Raton, and Sister Bridget (Rickard) of Holy Mystery, Carmelite Sisters of Baltimore, St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton.
In essays sent to Sister Jadwiga Drapala, episcopal delegate for religious in the diocese, some of the sisters described their journey to consecrated life.
Born in Venezuela and coming to the United States in 2015, Sister Sagrario, who serves in the Diocese of Orlando, said she felt that Jesus and Mary were guiding her path.
“I remember going to the chapel in St. Rita, being in front of the tabernacle, and feeling so strongly in heart that this was the moment to give my life totally to Him — to donate myself to Him,” she said. “My heart was full of every emotion — I was joyful; I was afraid; I wanted to cry; I was shaking. My intellect couldn’t fully grasp what the Lord was asking me, but I understood so perfectly in my soul.”
Sister Myriam wrote about attending confirmation class and having her first thoughts of a religious vocation. The topic that evening was “vocations,” and each student was asked to answer the question, “Would you be open to a religious vocation?”
“As my turn got closer and closer my heart started beating faster and faster,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I know the right answer is yes. Because if I say no, God is going to have to teach me a lesson about being open to his will, and then he’s going to make me be a nun!’ So, in a misguided attempt to skip that very unappealing lesson, I answered with a hesitant but sincere, ‘Yes.’ That yes cracked the door of my heart just enough for Jesus to continue the conversation several years later.”
In her essay, Sister Tonia recalled meaningful encounters with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration and many faith-filled people around her. “Looking back, I see how it was all God’s love breaking through and pursuing my heart to bring me to the greatness I desired, which was found in relationship with Him,” she said. “My response each time was to give Him everything and love Him with all my heart. My advice to anyone discerning their vocation is to be open and let Jesus love you. Our vocations are a response to His love, so if we focus on Him, everything else follows.”
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