What I love about being a Catholic Sister
Editor’s Note: As we celebrate Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14, several sisters will share via the blog about their experiences living as a Catholic sister.
I entered the community of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods at age 47, a widow with one grown son. I had arrived at the United States in 1967 with my husband. We moved from Miami to Long Island, New York to Michigan.
I was born in 1939 in Rosario, Argentina. The youngest of three children and the only girl, I felt from the beginning that I had to stand and defend myself. I think this became one of my character traits.
At grammar school with the religious of “La Santa Union de los Sagrados Corazones,” I learned about and found my God, a benign and loving force who has been my Savior, companion and guiding light.
As a teenager and young woman, I began to study medicine. I found companionship and a common mission within the University, in the Argentinian Catholic Action group, where I learned about the theology of liberation. I felt called to participate and be involved. I also felt within myself a possible call to religious life. But it was not to be then. I met and married my husband and with him, emigrated to the United States. We had a son.
Our family eventually made our home and I found a parish in Pontiac, Mich., where I ministered. Ten years later, my husband died suddenly. I believe my early experiences helped me as an adult to survive those hard years. I had the support of my community, co-workers and good friends.
Faith and commitments guided me to special places where I met sisters from different communities with whom I mingled and ministered. I became especially close with one sister and that lasted through the years while my son grew up and then moved away from home and got married.
Surrendering to the Spirit
Sister Susan Dinnin, SP, would often invite me over when other Sisters of Providence would gather for community meetings. With them, I learned about the community charism and their ministries. I felt attracted to them, respected their values and what they stood for and I enjoyed their company.
At one of their meetings, I woke up in the morning and through the window could see a large field of wheat and a beautiful living tree full of green leaves. In my morning prayer, I felt called again to choose between being in the field as a lay minister or becoming one of the leaves on the branches of this tree of Providence that God had shown me through the women I had met. It was such a graced moment. I surrendered to the Spirit and began a new life journey.
I am so happy and grateful for these 35 years of religious life. I have done ministries, pursued studies and ministered in places and with communities I couldn’t have achieved by myself.
I still have a close and wonderful relationship with my son and family, including grand- and great-grandchildren who are a joy. I give thanks for them and for the grace of so many great sister friends, and the knowledge that we walk together and love each other.
After years of ministering with many Hispanic Catholic communities in different diocese, I am officially retired. But by the grace of God, I have been invited by my sisters to join in a new mission and be part of a new home and ministry in Nogales, Ariz. We are part of Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit mission that supports the needs and rights of immigrants who come looking for asylum. We also support deported persons who often have families in the U.S. They are left at the border with nothing and nowhere to go.
I love that I can still use my bilingual skills and serve my fellow human beings! I love being a Catholic Sister and give thanks to God’s Providence, that benign and loving force that has been my Savior, Companion and guiding light.
Thank you for this beautiful sharing of how God has worked in your life journey. You continue to be God’s Providence in your ministry with immigrants who are so vulnerable. You are a blessing!.
What a beautiful story of making your way to where you have landed. And what a blessing! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Sister Marilu for sharing your amazing story and for your trust in Providence and faithfulness to the leading of the Holy Spirit throughout your life. Blessings upon you and your ministry!
Your story is so beautiful and full of love, Marilu. I thank Providence that I have been gifted with your presence and friendship !
Thank you, Marilu, for your personal testimony about God’s call. Clearly the journey with Providence always brings surprises! And clearly you are faithful to Providence!
Sister Marilu, Thank you so much for sharing the story of your life’s journey which is also your faith journey. I am looking forward to being with you when we come to the border and visit Casa Teodora. God bless you!
Marilu,.your story inspires and encourages me. Thank you and love!