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SISTER MARY IRENE
St. Catharines

My Vocation story: "I want you only for myself".
I was born into a good Catholic family. I used to spend the whole week looking forward to receiving Jesus in Holy Communion on Sundays and on feast days. Our faith was always a part of my life. As a family, we recited the rosary daily. Since we lived on a farm, it seems that we were always praying for rain, or for it to stop.

When I went to high school, I started to read all the books on the Saints. My mother enjoyed them too. The desire to be a Missionary and to do something very special for God was aflame in my heart. It was at this time that mother died suddenly, leaving me with a broken heart. Mary was to be my mother now. My devotion to Mary became stronger now. To be a nun – oh, no, never – but the flame in my heart was becoming stronger, and leaving me with no peace. It was at this time, I was dating this boy who was quite amusing. When he used to take me home, I felt the strong presence of Jesus in the car tell me, “ No you can’t love him, for I want you only for Myself”. I knew it was my calling then, to follow Jesus.

Actually, I had little discernment, for I wrote only to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, and the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus for information. In the spring, I came to Mississauga to see the Sisters. I liked their spirit, and the fact that they are working to save souls and make reparation. In other words: to be a missionary at home. So on September 12, 1966, I joined the Carmelite Sisters, and I found real peace of heart.

However there were many struggles.

As a novice, I was homesick until my dad got married again. Once dad remarried - no more homesickness! I didn’t feel I would be needed at home again. About two months before final vows, I was tempted to go back home. I became so sick that I couldn’t eat or sleep at night. One night this temptation was so strong that I could feel the evil one in my cell. I blessed my room with holy water and went to sleep. To make it worse, my retreat before profession was dull and trying. But after making my final vows, my Spouse enveloped me in peace and joy that I never experienced before – it lasted for a couple of weeks.

As I live out the days of my religious vocation, I find peace and joy in saying YES to Jesus’ calling to be His loving Bride by being faithful to my vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. It is also by trying to “See God in all, Love God in all, Serve God in all” (Maxim of Blessed Mary Teresa of St. Joseph) at Mount Carmel Home for the Aged in St. Catharines.

Let us pray for the grace of perseverance that we will all be faithful in our wonderful vocations to keep the flame of God’s love burning always.

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