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SISTER GABRIEL JOHN
Medicine Hat

Vocation story: "A Gift from God"

I was nine years old when I first experienced the desire to serve the Lord. I told my parents that I wanted to be a nun. My mother said that I was too young, and that I had to finish school. I was not encouraged at all. While all of my friends were collecting pictures of Elvis Presley, I was fascinated in collecting Holy Cards and pictures of nuns. After I finished High School, I talked to my parents again about entering the convent. My father got angry and said, “I do not want any of my children begging”. In the Philippines, in those days, nuns used to beg. From then on I kept silent about wanting to be a nun.

After College, I got a job, and then immigrated to the United States. I had a good job, my own apartment, a nice car and good circle of friends. I was a volunteer in the church and sang in the folk choir at Mass. I was content and happy. Once in a while the convent desire would arise in my mind, but quickly I would dismiss the thought. I remember one time I was praying my night-time prayers I heard something like a whisper from within saying, “You try everything you want for your life, but what you really long for you never try”. I was frightened because I knew it was God calling me to the convent. I was overwhelmed and I answered, “ I am going, I am going”.

I went to visit the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in La Mesa, California. I was attracted by their contemplative prayer life that is lived side by side with their active apostolate of caring for the children and the elderly. I felt drawn to the congregation to their simplicity and to their life of prayer but I was scared. I was very scared to give up everything I worked for, my good job with its good salary and benefits. I was reluctant to give up my friends, my car, my apartment and other material things. I thought of my mother, fearing I would not be able to visit her regularly especially now that she is getting older. Maybe I was afraid of the unknown – but I promised the Lord I would give it a try.

I forgot about my fears and entered the Carmelite Order in August 1991. I plunged zealously into the life of a religious and from then on I felt peace that only God can give. God showered me with many graces. I made my First Vows July 2nd, 1994 and my Perpetual Vows July 2nd, 1999. I have served our Community in California, in Texas, and recently I arrived in Canada to serve as a Carmelite Sister here in Medicine Hat. I thank God for my vocation to the Religious Life – truly a Gift from God.

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