THE STORY OF A CALL

"To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances,
to seek God the greatest of all adventures
and to find God the greatest human achievement".

St. Augustine

My vocation Story

All for the greater glory of God!

My name is Sr. Marie May Lausier. Jesus stole my heart when I made my First Communion! True to my first love, from that moment on, I joyfully attended daily Mass. My love of Jesus in the Eucharist became and remains the center of my life. I was the seventh of sixteen children, eleven of which were boys. You can then understand why I would periodically get tired of living only with women in community!  Faith, prayer and singing were the hallmarks of our joyful family, along with hard work. Mary was part of our family life. I remember that even as a young child, I often felt an inner joy during our daily evening rosary.  This is how I feel Mary gradually drew me to herself, with other later manifestations, letting me know that I was her daughter and that she was leading me.

A decisive moment in my call happened when I witnessed the agonizing pain of a cousin whose husband died suddenly after ten years of marriage. She spent hours with my Mother, crying about her loss.  I listened as I did my chores.  After she left, it was my turn to sit with my Mom.  We spoke about married love. It became clear to me as we dialogued that I could only give my heart to a Love that would last forever! I then vowed myself to Jesus and changed my life accordingly.

 

The next providential step took place at Marie-Joseph Academy in Biddeford, ME.  We had only two years of High School in our small town and I did not want the options close by. My pastor was concerned and on a return trip from Portland, he handed me the address of a boarding school. The rest is history. Before this I had never heard of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. Besides, it was some 350 miles away. I took a leap in faith, and went to the school. In our senior year, my cousin Anne-Marie could not wait to enter the convent and kept urging me to enter with her. I knew that I belonged to God. I liked the nuns I knew- my oldest sister was one of them – but nuns had never caught my fancy! Deciding was sheer agony! I eventually made another leap in faith! I felt a tearing in my heart as I left home. It was forever! Anne Marie left the community during her time at the novitiate, never making first vows! Today I see it was God leading me to this Congregation through her.

I liked the rhythm of religious life. After a few months, I realized I knew nothing of the Woman that I was to follow and asked for Marie Rivier’s biography. The sisters handed me a small pamphlet. “That is all you have about your Foundress,” I said in disbelief!  Little did I know that years later I would be digging into the archives in France to write about the Marian aspect of our Charism. 

For the time being, I caught her fire, her love of Jesus and Mary as I read the small pamphlet. She was the life of my novitiate days, I loved her, her spirituality, her daring. Her dream of evangelizing the whole world, I made my own! To this day, she walks by my side sometimes tangibly, other times darkly, where Light hides.

My mission life was unpredictable! After fifteen years of teaching, I began to ride the whirlwinds of Vatican II, and have not stopped. I went to Rome as an aid for our Special Chapter in 1969, a unique experience. It was like touching the life-blood of our Congregation.  Under the leadership of one of our Superior Generals, I opened the Rivier House of Prayer in Westbrook, ME. In addition I lead a Tertianship program for ten years, a time of renewal for our sisters. I laid the foundation of our Lay Association with the Rivier Retreat, a module of St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises that I created. To date over 3000+ people have lived this spiritual journey. I served thirteen years on our Provincial Leadership Team, spent two years in a hermitage in Kentucky, and helped organize Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Saco, ME and its development in other parishes. I also do spiritual direction, give sessions on Mary and retreats for our MRA of whom I am a co-director.  An amazing display of Rivier zeal indeed! All work of obedience done for the greater glory of God. He is the Master of my destiny! I believe there is more waiting for me yet! Fiat! Meanwhile I am joyfully aging and living our Tout pour Dieu! Tout par le Saint Amour! All for God! All through Holy Love!

                                             

Sr. Marie May Lausier, pm

A missionary forever!

My name is Sr. Lorraine Letourneau I firmly believe that my vocation to religious life was at the heart of my soul at a very young age as I got to know the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary at Kindergarten. I don't think I ever thought that my life could be spent otherwise.

Even in my childhood, on viewing films on missionary life, Africa was always calling me. Religious Life was also calling me. I had an aunt who was a Sister of the Precious Blood and in talking with her, I also developed a desire for contemplative life. At one stage, all this was confusing for me!
At the age of 18, I nearly opted for lay missionary work in Africa but with the help of one of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary at St. Andre High School in Biddeford, ME I realized that at Presentation of Mary, all my desires could be fulfilled: yes, it was evident that my thirst for contemplative, apostolic and missionary Religious Life could be satisfied; therefore that was my choice or rather God's choice for me. I have been very happy! The yearning for Africa was always there and whenever the opportunity arose, I always expressed my desire and my hope to my superiors.

Just before final vows in 1968, I was asked if I was willing to go to any other country and again I expressed my wish. This brought me to Ireland. This was meant to be for two years but I happily served in Ireland for 11 years. From Ireland I was asked to serve in England — a disappointment because I wanted to go to Africa, but I agreed because I believed that it was God's will. I did it for 13 years and found happiness serving the Lord there. When I again expressed my desire for Africa, I was told to put this desire to rest. And so I did, sadly, but remained a missionary in my heart!

 

Two years later, the call came for me to work in Cameroon, West Africa. I could not believe it! At 56 years old, would I now go to Africa? Yes, I had waited 33 years for this and now it was happening. My prayer was one of thanksgiving and with all my heart, I asked God to give me all that was necessary to do the work He now asked me to do. For 18 years, I shared life with the poor, with various parishes and with young women as postulants, novices and young professed. In 2013, I returned to USA due to health problems. However, in 2015, I was given the beautiful privilege of working with the sisters in our nursing home.
I can say that my life, even with its ups and down of everyday life, I have been very happy and would not change an item of what God has always planned for me as He continues to be in charge. Praise the Lord!

Sr. Lorraine

Sister Holly Gauthier, pm

 

 

 

My name is Sr. Holly I am a Sister of the Presentation of Mary from the United States. I believe God began to fashion my heart to enter religious life long before I was aware. As a young child the Lord blessed me with two wonderful parents, who raised me in a good, faith-filled Catholic home. At this time the thought of religious life never entered my mind. Although, for as long as I can remember, God has been present preparing the way. My two siblings and I had a special yet unique childhood because my parents fostered many children in our home. By the time we were in our early teens, my parents had cared for over one hundred and fifty children legally adopting five. I now believe that welcoming many children into our family readied my heart to live in community.   

When I was in high school, my dad almost died. This trial was very difficult for me and my family. Not knowing what else to do I spent lots of time speaking to the Lord in prayer. Putting my trust in Him strengthened my faith. As He held me close, our relationship grew. Before my father fell sick, spending time with my friends was most essential but after my dad’s recovery I felt a strong call to go back to Church.  After many months of ignoring the Lord’s invitation I went to Mass one Sunday morning.  During the Mass I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. My heart knew that I was loved and I was totally taken by Lord.

 

During my college years I was happy, life was good. I was busy with work, school, and church activities.  I enjoyed spending time with my friends/family but still something was missing.  In the spring I had the opportunity to attend a retreat. At the retreat I had a powerful prayer experience with the Mary the Mother of Jesus. I also received information about our House of Discernment. As I read through the information I knew I needed to go to live at the house to know more about religious life. Soon after I graduated from college I moved to the House of Discernment with a deep hunger to say “Yes” to God’s will like Mary did. 

While at the House of Discernment I lived and worked with the sisters for two years. During my time of Discernment I was invited to learn more about myself and how to determine if the spiritual movements within me came from God. Through the close encounter with the sisters I began to believe that I too was called to religious life.  I wanted to share in their enthusiasm for life and their profound peace.

In the summer of 2000 after my time of discernment I entered the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. It is hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. As a sister I have had many wonderful opportunities to lead others closer to Jesus Christ by teaching, by working with the youth, and by volunteering with the poor. For the past few years I have had the joy of being vocation director. In this ministry I am reminded often that it is Christ who is in charge. It is He who is calling and speaking to the hearts of our young and not so young people. As I seek to help others learn how to respond to the invitation to come and follow I am often surprised by God’s magnificent works.

Through the years I have come to believe that my call to religious life is a gift that calls me to be open enough to become my truer self. Saying “yes”, to God is not always easy but with His Grace all is possible. In addition I have come to see that God wants my happiness and to use my gifts/talents in a way that will help me and others. As a Sister of the Presentation of Mary I am part of something bigger than myself and with my sisters I choose again to follow the Lord, day by day. With this awareness I look towards the future and all of life with a willing spirit, believing God will be with me every step of the way.  

 

 

Sister Holly

Sister Cecile Mondor, pm

On February 8th 1939, I, Cecile Claire Marie Mondor was born to Lucienne and Henry Mondor, a good Christian family. I was the oldest of five children. I attended grammar and High School with the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in the Saco & Biddeford area.

As a young girl I had thought of being a religious sister but brushed that aside. Then I started dating a young soldier who was in the Air Force.

At the end of my senior year the desire of being a religious resurfaced only when a Sister ask me the question: “Was I praying for MY VOCATION?” At that point things clicked – voila.

 

Yes, I entered the Novitiate on February 11, 1959.  I took the Holy Habit in Hudson, New Hampshire on August 15, 1959. Finally made First Profession on August 15, 1961 – taking the name “Sister Lorraine Marie”.  And on August 15, 1966 I made my Final Profession.

As a young novice I was sent out to teach. I love teaching children. I had grades 2 through 8. With God’s Grace I was able to teach for 57 years. My missions were in Massachusetts and in Maine.  I started my career with all teaching Sisters and ended with all lay teachers. My last assignment was in Lewiston, Maine. I was able to be a support to both students and teachers. What a great gift. To continue zeal to make Jesus known and loved for so many years.

During my life time I have been blessed with many Spiritual programs offered by the community that have enhanced my spiritual and prayer life.

Now I am a substitute teacher and a volunteer in the Parish Office, where I continue to witness my love of Jesus. 

 

 

Sr. Cecile, pm

SR. CLAIRE GAGNON,pm

I am Sr. Claire Gagnon from the beautiful Province of the USA. I live and minister at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in the state of Maine.

I am a liturgist, preparing morning and evening prayer and choosing the hymns for the daily liturgies.  I am a spiritual director meeting with those who wish to deepen their spiritual life with God and I am also a retreat director working one on one with individuals who desire to make directed retreats and deepening their relationship with God. As different as this may sound I am also maintenance director of our retreat center.  I guess when one has been here as long as I have, you tend to know all the spaces and where some of the problems may develop at any moment and what renovation would come next and so I have the wonderful work of taking care our retreat center with a very talented workman.

The thought that I would be here, now, in this moment, being the person I am and doing the things I do was not something conceivable in my teenage nor in my young adult years.  Before entering community I lived a good life. I worked in a bank, in fact, two banks, one in the savings department, the other in the loans department. I did manage to save money, meet people and take banking classes to pursue administrational positions of which I did not continue because of my entrance into religious life.

I was involved in my parish church and had started the folk group (singing group) there. As a  young woman I dated many young men and there was one in particular, a handsome young man at the time and we were seriously thinking of our future together, in fact pre-engaged, thinking of marriage, children (6 boys   to be exact [Christopher, Brian, Paul, Jeffrey, Joseph and Peter].) and where we were going to build our home but… “The Hound of Heaven”, God, got to me three and half months before I entered community and drew me away from my handsome young friend.

And how did it happen? A friend of mine who was a sister of the Presentation of Mary at the time asked me to lead the music at one of their retreat weekends that the sisters sponsored at Marie Joseph Spiritual Center. I agreed to it as long as I could go walk the beach while they met in their sessions. I had no intention of participating in any of their programs. I simply wanted to walk the beach and play music.  But on that Saturday morning in September of 1973, my friend, the sister, came to me and said, my provincial would like to speak with you. (I didn’t even know what a provincial was) My response was: “Why, what for?” and she responded: “Oh, she just wants to chat!” and I said: “Really, why? I don’t have anything to say to her.” 

And so it happened! I met with this provincial and she proceeded to give me “100 reasons” why I should enter the convent and I rebutted with “101 reasons” why I shouldn’t enter the convent.  Guess who won? God has his ways.  After walking the beach that Saturday afternoon something happened and in that night I wouldn’t say that it was a dream like Joseph but the following morning I walked into the same office in which I spoke with this “provincial superior” and asked her for a piece of paper because I believed that I wanted to write a letter of request to enter the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.  And so I did and four months later I entered. May it be known that the “Hound of Heaven” (God) never lets one go when He believes they have a call.  And I don’t regret one day of my response to his Call. God gifts us with the Grace to respond daily to his call and invitations.

Sr. Claire, pm

SR. APRIL MIREAU, pm

My call to religious life has a very long history, it originates many generations ago in the strong faith of my ancestors that has been faithfully passed on for generations. Hence, I grew up in a home and parish community that was filled with faith and love. My first experience of the love of God, was the gracious love that I received from family and friends, and which I later understood originated in the Love of God.

            As I grew up, I realized bit by bit, that this God of Love wanted to be my best friend, and not only my best friend, but the center of my life. Because of the positive experience of the Love of God which I had experienced, I was eager to let the Lord sit upon the throne of my heart and lead the way.

            As I continued to journey through high school and university, I went to retreats and read books that would nourish my faith and help me to discern my vocation. Gradually, religious life went from being a remote possibility in my life, to being an interest and eventually an ardent desire. This however, was not my only desire. While studying in University, I met a wonderful young man with whom I had a great relationship.

            Even though I had never had a real concrete or plain indication from the Lord as to where he was leading me, I finally came to a point when I knew I had to make a decision. After an intense time of prayer and discernment, I had arrived at a place where I felt completely FREE, as if the Lord was saying to me: “April, I have given you the gifts and the capacity for both vocations; you are free to choose.” It was then that from somewhere deep inside of me, the answer welled up and I responded: “I choose you Jesus, my love, and none other!”

            Living out this decision hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had my fair share of doubts, trials and grieving, but through it all, I sense the gentle, loving guidance of Christ’s Spirit enfolding me with his presence. His presence manifests itself in the regular events of everyday life and the loving presence of people who shower me with his LOVE.

            As a nurse, I have been blessed to touch my wounded spouse in the patients and other people that I journey with. Through each of them, I have been able to receive love from Jesus and love Him in return. I am so grateful that God has called me to be His bride and to journey together with my Sisters in community as we challenge and encourage each other to greater holiness and zeal for Christ!

 

Sr. April Marie, pm

SR. APRIL MARGARETTE HIQUIAL, pm

God’s dream for me

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you….”
Jeremiah 1:5

These words from Scripture were the very words that inspired me to search for meaning in my life and I began to seek the answer to this question, “what is the plan of God for me?”  

I was born on April 13, 1992 in the cool and mountainous place of Calinan, Davao City. I am the only daughter of the three children of my parents Romela and Felipe. When I was five years old, my mother would always bring me to the school of the Sisters to fetch my older brother. There, I met a PM sister who worked in the canteen. Sister was so friendly and so kind to me. She always gave me a piece of chocolate. I was so attracted to her by the way she smiled and dressed- simple yet very eye-catching for me. That simple attraction became my secret dream. On December 2006, an opportunity came through a friend who invited me to join a week-end visit to the convent in order to have a glimpse of their life. I cannot forget the peace and joy I felt the moment I entered for the first time into the convent in Calinan. That was the beginning of the journey of my desire to know more about the sisters’ life and the life of a closer relationships with Jesus and Mary. Having lived that experience, I became restless and began asking for more of that peace and joy to the extent of saying these words, “This is it! This is the life that I want to live.” It was indeed the turning point of my life.

 

I continued my studies while I also nurtured my vocation. I became a volunteer catechist and attended daily Mass. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, I worked for one year as a Guidance Counselor in a PM school. The following year, April 24, 2013, I began my living my quest inside the convent to continue finding the answer to my question: “what is the plan of God for me?” 

 

In May of the same year, I became a Postulant and I entered the Novitiate on April 25, 2014. In the School of Happiness, I encountered more deeply God’s love in spite of my struggles as I faced my worst self. On May 6, 2016, I said my big “yes” to Jesus whose love has captured my entire being.

I am now on my fourth year as a Temporary Professed Religious. Each day, I am celebrating Jesus’ love and faithfulness. As a young Presentation of Mary Sister, I am dreaming to become more joyful and more faithful until the end.

 

Sr. April Margarette, pm