Religious Life is full of surprises and that is what happened to me when I was called to leave, for the first time, my own native land and go to Mission. My dream, since I was a novice, was to be a missionary… to bring the charism of Rogate and let others know of the need for good workers in God’s vineyards.
One day, unexpectedly, my dream became true… I was in tears when I received the Crucifix, ready to go as a missionary. Since then, more than fifty years have passed! I have been in Australia, India, Philippines, Korea and Indonesia.
At first I thought that being a missionary would mean to be a good preacher going around to talk about Jesus and his kingdom, but then, once there I realised that was not the exact idea of evangelization… I learned by experience that a missionary preaches primarily with his/her own life by witnessing God’s love, mercy, understanding and forgiveness. In other words, just be with others, adopting the simplicity of their life, sharing their poverty, listening their problems.
I found out that to do God’s work is not so easy; it requires a strong will, courage, self denial and a heart full of love and forgiveness. By working with others through these many years I learned a lot, it is a matter of giving and receiving with faith and love; not always easy… I was challenged in many circumstances.
Only the spirit of Rogate kept me going on in this ministry, as St Annibale would say:
“The faith and the love of Christ gave me the strength to go on my charitable work with the poor, otherwise I would get bored. “
After living in a first world country for many years, the impact of the reality of poverty and the life of the poor was a tremendous shock. As a Sister I tried to adjust to their life and be able to appreciate the struggles of their daily grind. I then witnessed with much joy, especially in India, Indonesia and the Philippines, seeing many young ladies joining the Congregation attracted by the Charism and mission of human promotion of the Daughters of Divine Zeal.
In Cebu, Philippines, I had an interesting and unique experience as a Vocation Promoter, hard at the beginning, but later very rewarding. I travelled into many Barrios and Villages of Visay and Mindanao, meeting young female students and talking to them about God and the beauty and challenges of the religious life.
I wish that many young and not so young girls would have the courage to answer YES to the call of the Lord of the Harvest and fulfilling Jesus’ command to pray for good labourers (cf Mt .9:37-38; Lk.10:2).
Youth, come and see the goodness of the Lord: HE needs your hands, your heart, and your mind to reach out through all the earth and bring the Good News. Don’t be afraid to leave what you have because you will find more than what you left behind.
God promised that anyone who leaves mother, father, sisters and brothers for His name’s sake will have hundred fold and eternal life. It is more than 50 years since I left my family and joined the Daughters of Divine Zeal. I am still happy and full of zeal to work for the glory of God.
And you, do you wish to risk all? You will not regret it, I can assure you, you won’t. Come and experience the challenges of religious life!
Sr M Floriana Lapolla, fdz