“My Story” -By Sister Lillian Manning

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.

Views: 402

Comment by Melissa Schmittou on January 9, 2010 at 9:19am
I love your story, Sister. You are such an inspiration. The Holy Spirit shines through you! God bless you always! - xoxoxo
Comment by Karen Ann Sayers on December 2, 2014 at 2:43am

Dear Sister Lillian, What an inspirational story and how glorious and loving is our Divine Lord, Blessed Be His Holy Name!  I am 56, separated and going through a divorce.  We have a 15-year-old daughter who wants to stay with her father.  When the divorce is finalized I need an annulment, which my Pastor will help me through.  There are so many older women who feel strongly called to be Brides of Christ and serve Him alone in His people who are suffering.  Older women have so much to bring to the table and in the days of yore, older women were welcomed into religious orders as a norm.  I have so much love for Mother Antonia and have had the privilege of knowing her for approx. 30 years.  My soon-to-be ex-husband actually helped drive her around TJ with another of our friends before we were married; and she even attended our wedding!  My husband and I have grown apart in every way possible and, honestly, I have felt the call since I was five years old and my Mother told me the story of the Passion of our Lord.  I fell in love that day and cried for days.  Prior my marriage I entered the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in San Diego, CA, but left after living with them only seven months.  I was definitely immature and had a bad self image, I guess.  But I did have a deep prayer life. I was so happy there and experienced profound peace until the last three weeks.  The thought dropped into my head that I was to be married.  I should have told my Novice Mistress everything, but I was too ashamed.  They adamently felt I had a true vocation.  Now I feel God pulling me like a magnet to Himself.  I'm an inactive RN who hurt her back on the job (that I loved) and was injured during a back surgery in 2010.  They severed or severely damaged the largest nerve in my right leg so I walk with a cane--and pray a lot:)  I am on permanent Social Security and finally won a four-year-long worker's comp case, thus, I am self supportive.  Like you did I keep praying, "Lord, are you calling me to be a nun?"  And the answer I get is a stronger desire to serve Him and profound peace.  I have checked out many Religious Orders and they only want the young and healthy.  I am older and "disabled."  But God has used the sick and disabled to do great things.  I always think of the Magnificat, "He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly."  And then I think of our humble Blessed Mother's FIAT!  I also think of Sarah and Elizabeth having children in their old age who changed the world!  Thank you so much for your story and for your "YES."  Like you, and Mother Antonia (whose face actually shimmered and glowed with the light of God), and Mother Teresa, I too want to do "something beautiful for God."  I am going to make the Christmas Novena for the intentions of the Order.  And I also ask for your prayers that the Blessed Lord remove these obstacles I face peacefully and expeditiously+


You need to be a member of SisterLillian to add comments!

Join SisterLillian

© 2018   Created by Mary.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service