Sr. Mary Teresa of the Sacred Passion
Doctor? Lawyer? Indian chief? Well, the latter two were never part of my vocational thinking. But as a youngster I loved to play with toys and games and had a doctor’s kit to play with. I liked the stethoscope and planned to take care of all my relatives as a doctor. That was before I knew that if someone would throw up I would throw up on top of them! That was the end of my doctor’s ‘career.’
Music was also one of my loves classical music being my favorite. I could listen to it for a long time and it moved me profoundly and prayerfully. At about 8 years old I started taking accordion lessons and managed to play some classical pieces on it thanks to my teacher who was attending Julliard.
My parents had only 2 children, I and a younger sister and we both went to Catholic grammar and high school. We were not an overly religious family and we had no relatives who were priests or religious.
I had Sisters in grammar school and they probably had a big part in my growing desire to be a religious. One of them asked me to help out working in church. I would go on Saturdays and do whatever chores she would ask me to do. I really enjoyed doing this. It was a way of getting into the sanctuary, close to Jesus in the tabernacle. These Sisters who taught religion did so not only from the catechism but also from their hearts. For example, one Sister urged us to go to the front of the church to get as close to Jesus as we could and not sit at the back like so many people did.
One day we were asked to write whether we wanted to be a religious. I wanted very much to be one, but didn’t know what kind. I did not want to teach, so thought of being a missionary. This particular Sister had a good sense of humor. And that was how Carmel came into the picture for me. One day she jokingly exclaimed: ‘Sometimes I think my life is tougher than the Little Flower’s!” That planted a seed of research for me. What kind of a life did St. Therese live? When I found out, the bells started ringing: that was what I really wanted. I loved reading about the saints and the public library did not have many books about saints, but amazingly, many were about Carmelite saints!
So before graduating from high school I started with the help of a Sister friend and a priest friend to write to Carmelite monasteries close to home and then further out until one was open to considering my vocation.
I was doing this secretly from my parents, not knowing how they would feel about it. But when one monastery was willing to give me a chance, the priest who was helping me said I had to tell them. And he was so wise in his advice. He said, your parents really want what is best for you and what will make you happy. Having loving parents, he proved right. They found it hard but let me pursue it. I was invited to a clothing ceremony taking place at the monastery that was open to me and my dear Mom came with me. It was a hard experience for her, but she did not complain and she and my Dad did not make it hard for me to pursue my vocation. So after graduating from high school in June, I entered in August. Life in a monastery can be very challenging in so many ways, like all vocations are. I am amazed at the grace given me to respond to my call which was beyond my strength. The fire of God’s love was behind it and was so powerful. It is true we can do all things in Him who strengthens us, and I thank Him for doing this for me, alleluia!
God asked even more of my parents. My sister also became a religious, joining a nursing community. The pain was so hard for my parents, but again, they supported her decision and let her enter also.
As time went on, I have come to appreciate my parents’ goodness, love, unselfishness and sacrifice more and more and feel they were the ones who made the biggest sacrifice. May God reward them in ways I can’t even imagine!