The Church is rejoicing because it is the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (08 December). Celebrating today is also very important for us, the Daughters of Divine Zeal, because we are reminded of our founder St Annibale Maria Di Francia‘s great love for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
From the beginning, St Annibale’s family was devoted to our Lady – that is why the name Mary (or Maria) is part of his baptismal name. Each Daughter of Divine Zeal also bears the name Mary. Those of us who do not have Mary as part of our name, ask to have it added as part of our baptismal name because she is our Divine Protectress. For our congregation, the Blessed Virgin Mary is proclaimed our Divine Superior. We look to all of our Superiors as the representatives, the vicars, of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
08 December is also important for us as the date on which we usually enter into the next level of our formation, such as postulancy, the novitiate, our first and our perpetual profession. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of all vocations in life. Her Yes or Fiat was total and unblemished. Because she was and is always ready to embrace God’s love in anything and everything, for us she is our guide, protectress, and inspiration in our vocation.
On this day, I particularly reflect on my own vocation. I recall that as days become weeks, weeks become months – the months pass by so quickly and move towards the coming of the end of the year. With God’s will, I am looking forward to some milestones in my life.
Next year, I celebrate the 20th anniversary of my Religious Profession! Time has seemed to pass so quickly – in 2021 I shall be, God willing, celebrating my 25th – Silver – Anniversary. Within a couple of years from now, many things will be happening and I pray that I may live these life challenges with God’s wisdom, full of hope and love.
Looking back upon my journey as a Religious Sister, I remember how, in my early years, I was assigned to six different communities – big and small. They were big communities in the sense that they had at least 10 sisters, including those who were under formation. The small communities had 3 or 4 sisters only.
The first assignment that I had was as a receptionist in a big community and as a sacristan. A few months afterwards, I was transferred to another community assisting children in an orphanage – here I was one of the house parents and I taught the Catechism. Later on, I was transferred to another community for religious studies at the Marist School of Theology, while serving as a sacristan. I then returned to the orphanage, again as one of the house parents – but this time I also served as the community treasurer, along with teaching the topic of Christian Living. In time I was transferred from that community and I stayed for three months in our retreat house, in preparation for my Charismatic year in Rome.
Before I made my perpetual profession, I had a year of experience in Rome for the International Juniorate. The Charismatic year meant more studying to deepen our charism. We also studied the history of our congregation and visited various historical places. At that time, there were only four junior Sisters in our batch from different nationalities: African, Korean, Italian and myself, a Filipino. I was challenged to speak and comprehend the Italian language, and to live in communion with my Sisters. At the beginning it was really difficult in many aspects like the culture, language, and relationships.
When I returned to the Philippines after the Charismatic year, my task was to teach Christian living in our school, the Padre Annibale School, and to serve as formator of our aspirants and as a sacristan. I was assigned to the children and as a teacher at the school. In time, I transferred to Marikina, Philippines where I served as a Sacristan, and as a kindergarten and nursery teacher.
In 2014 I was transferred to the Richmond FDZ community here in Australia. What a journey it has been!
I have journeyed through all these years and I still continue journeying. Looking back and contemplating this journey, I am happy with all that I have been through: the joys, the pains, having to adjust to different personalities, making sacrifices and so many others things. My vows that I have professed – Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Rogate – have been challenging, lived and tested like fire tried gold.
Being a Daughter of Divine Zeal over these many years I can see that God has always placed me in the right place, at the right time. I am thankful to the Lord of the Harvest who accompanies me as I walk with faith, love and hope. It is a long way of journeying and I still continue praying for generosity, commitment, fidelity and wisdom to follow the path that the Lord is leading me on. I pray that my feet will never get tired until I reach the end of this life quest. No matter how far or how long is this journey, my heart will always be fixed upon Jesus, my eyes always gazing upon Him, and my life totally centered upon Him. Please help me, Lord, to be humble and to be Your little servant.
I pray for you all:
- the religious
- married couples and their families
- the lay consecrated
- the youth
May Mary continue to journey, protect, and guide us in loving God’s Son, Jesus.
Happy Feast Day! Tanti Auguri!
Did you know?
On 08 December 1900, St Annibale inaugurated the Association of Prayer for Vocations, later to be known as the Union of Prayer for Vocations (UPV) for lay people. The goal of the UPV is to pray for numerous and holy vocations.