When I was seventeen I became a Catholic and married the very next month.
Many years later, there I was 65 years old, divorced with five grown children, twelve grandchildren and at the time one great grand son. It was a total surprise to me that God would call me into religious life.
How did God call me? A life-long friend had come over for a visit. She was sitting in her car getting ready to leave and I was standing next to her car as we continued talking. She said something to me and I replied jokingly “Maybe He (God) meant for me to be a Nun”. The words must have come from the Holy Spirit, because I do not know why I said that. At that moment the Holy Spirit came upon me. It was a most wonderful peaceful feeling.
Four major stresses continued to plague me at this difficult time in my life after my divorce. I was even suffering with anxiety attracts. Suddenly, there I stood in complete and total peace. My friend said she knew something must have happened because as she looked at me, I just stood there silent. I still don’t recall watching her drive off.
Somehow I found my way into the house and sat down. The words came to me, “Lord, are you telling me you want me to be a Nun?” The feeling was even more powerful. I could have stayed in that moment forever. I said, “Ok Lord, I will do what you ask of me.”
I searched for several months to locate an order that would take me, as a mature, divorced woman with children, but with no avail. When I told my children, they were surprised to say the least, but they understood and were supportive.
Finally I prayed, “Lord if You want me to do this, You will need to open a door.” Six months later one of my daughters called me and asked me if I still got the Readers Digest. I told her no and she said, “Oh Mother, you need to get the June issue. In this issue there is an article called “Antonia’s Mission” I know it was written just for you.
The Lord first called me in November of 2003 and by now it is May of 2004. I went right away and bought the magazine. When I read the article I knew that God had opened the door.
In this article there was no address, so I emailed Readers Digest and asked for it. They sent me a very nice note along with the address. That very day I wrote Mother Antonia Brenner. As soon as Mother Antonia received my letter she called me.
In our conversation, I explained my story to her and how the Holy Spirit had called me. Mother then acquainted me with the order. The Servants operate a ministry center, Casa Campos de San Miguel, located just three blocks from the La Mesa penitentiary. The Casa is a refuge for women leaving prison, women visiting incarcerated family in the nearby prison, as well as women and children who have come to Tijuana for the treatment of cancer. Three of our Sisters live and work at Casa Campos de San Miguel to do the cooking, assist those staying there and to serve the poor who come there for help. The sisters also have a convent nearby, Corazon de Maria, which serves as the community headquarters and is also a residence for some of the sisters in Tijuana. Corazon de Maria is also used as the community’s house of formation. Still other sisters and associates live in the United States and commute daily to Tijuana to visit area hospitals, comfort patients and their families and to serve those in need in Tijuana..
I lived in the Tijuana convent for six months of formation and discernment.
Formation is only six months since most of the mature women have already had established careers or some sort of education. It would normally take seven to nine years for very young women who may need an education or training to help out in the community. During the time of discernment, you will choose if this is what God is really calling you to do. The six months is also spent learning and reflecting on the spirituality of St. John Eudes and what it is like to take care of the poor. I took my vows on March 19, 2005 with the Eudist, Servants of the 11th Hour. I will return each year to formally renew my vows, even though God knows I took my vows for life.
God brought me back to Round Rock, Texas where I now serve at St. William Catholic Church as well as other areas of the Austin Diocese.
If you wish to learn more about our community go to www.servants11th.org