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".
My vocation Story
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.
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 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!”
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….”
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.
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.