READ: MY STORY OF SISTERHOOD: SISTER THERESA IMMACULATA: Meet Sister Theresa Immaculata of the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star, contemplative sisters who “live in the heart of the world in order to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit for the New Evangelization”. A native of Nigeria, Sister Theresa did much of her growing up in Lansing and attended Lansing Catholic Central High School. As she explains, she was helped in discerning her religious vocation by being part of the young adult group at St Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing. Sister Theresa Immaculata entered the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star, 10 years ago. Here is her incredible story of sisterhood:
“To ‘try’ to understand where I am now, we have to go back to where I came from; I say ‘try’ because I have to know that I cannot understand consecrated life, for it is Christ’s and the Virgin Mary’s life that I am called to live which is a mystery and so I need to constantly beg for the grace to live it one day at a time or even one instant at a time.”
“I am Sister Theresa Immaculata and I was born in Nigeria, Africa, into a very devout Catholic family. For my parents, God is real and their faith was strong in this truth and they did their best to lead us, their children, to discover Him for ourselves. The rosary was our family prayer every day, sometimes in the morning before going to school and/or in the evening before going to bed. Another influential person to me meeting God is my grandmother (God rest her soul). I remember once being struck by the way she was leading our evening rosary, she really believed that the Virgin Mary is real and she was praying to her. I thank God for her witness of faith.”
“The first time I remember ever saying I wanted to be a nun was when I heard my older brother say that he wanted to be a priest. I wanted to say even better than what he said and I shouted out ‘I WANT TO BE A NUN!’. However, when I said it, it stuck, and from that moment on when asked ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ I would say ‘I want to be a nun’.”
“In 1998, my family moved to the United States. I went to Junior High and Senior Year in Lansing Catholic Central High School. When it was time to think about life after high school, my desire was to be a doctor. I started to deviate from my initial desire of becoming a nun and started to put it off. I spent six years in college to later decide that medical school would take too long and that I wanted to start living already and be happy so I changed my major to clinical laboratory sciences which took two years to finish. I believed that once I started working and making money, I would find my happiness and that my life would make sense (which is the promise of the world) but the more I worked, the more I expected everything to fall into place, but it was to no avail.”
“By the grace of God, I was fired from that job and I prayed to God asking ‘What do you want me to do with my life? I thought this job would be my fate even though I was not happy, what is it then?’ That was when my calling came back to me again. My parents came to my rescue, they invited me to go with them on a pilgrimage to Alabama to visit Mother Angelica’s convent to have a time of retreat. It was the time I needed to pray and to ask God to speak to my heart what he wanted of me. One day before we left, we went to Mass at the famous chapel on EWTN where the Franciscan Friars celebrate Mass. After Mass, a woman sitting next to me calls me close to tell me something, she says to me, ‘you should go and become a nun, go to Mother Angelica’s convent and become a nun’. I looked at her in complete shock but then I realized that I am getting the answer to my prayers. So I went and met with the sister in charge of vocations for sisters who after hearing my story said to me ‘God is opening your eyes to your vocation and ‘this’ is one of your options (she said ‘this’ holding onto the grill because she was on the other side of the grill, they are cloistered) but go out there and search with other communities, if God is still calling you to our community then come back’. God bless Sister Jacinta for her advice and for showing me the freedom that exists in a calling that comes from God.”
“My search after this was slow because I didn’t know where to begin. I went home to live with my parents in Lansing and I joined the young adult group at St Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing. I was becoming more and more discouraged because I didn’t know how to narrow down my search and I started to drag my feet.”
“On a retreat in Grand Rapids, I met a woman who I spoke to about my discernment and she told me her daughter is a sister in a community in Illinois and that I should go and discern with them. At the end of the retreat, I gave my contact information for invitation to future retreats. One month later I received an email asking me if I would be interested to go on a silent retreat in Illinois close to the sister’s convent. I went on this silent retreat and one day before we left to go home, I went to speak with the superior of the sisters to ask about the community and about the charism and her response was ‘I can’t explain it to you, you need to come and see, to experience it for yourself. You will need to plan at least a week to have a true experience’. So, I left my number and almost forgot about it.”
“God had been patient with me until then but then he decided to push me a bit because I was dragging my feet. One sister was inspired to call me every once-in-a-while, so then I decided to schedule a week to go and visit the sisters. When I arrived, I found silence which doesn’t exist in the world. At first it wasn’t easy because I still had the noise of the world in me but then I entered little by little in the silence of Eucharistic adoration and it was there that I discovered that Jesus wanted me for Himself. After my week there, I wanted to enter right away but I had to wait and after two months I was able to enter in 2011.”
“It has been nine years now since I entered and I have learned that it is in the silence of Eucharistic adoration that God waits and that’s where I go every day to lay down all my troubles and the troubles of the world. God continues to push me when I forget what is most important which is ‘to stay with Him’ (‘Remain in me…’ Jn. 15:9). Nothing else matters. He is the source to whom I need to constantly return. And that’s my vocation story.”
* Do you feel that God may be calling you to Consecrated Life? Contact Dawn Hausmann, Director of Consecrated Vocations for the Diocese of Lansing, at email@example.com or 517-342-2506.
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