I would encourage others to consider a vocation to Religious life today because I personally have been very happy in my own living out of this vocation. Of course, like all vocations in life, one has their 'ups and downs', but normally these can be dealt with when one feels they are in the right place.
 That being said, a call to Religious Life is something very personal and varies from one person to another. One can have all kinds of motivations for answering that Call, good and perhaps not so good! However, we learn that in the first place it is God who calls us to follow Him and then He leaves us to make our own free choice to accept His Call or not. A line from the gospel puts it this way: “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you” (John 15:16) If we do accept to follow Him, and we try to answer with faithfulness, then He will purify all our motivations along the way. This I am sure is the same for all other vocations in life.

Looking back at my own life at nineteen years of age, now some fifty-six years ago, I remember vividly how I felt a real desire to follow Jesus and to come closer to Him in spite of the fact that I was no angel at the time. This may be because of the influence of my family background though I did not understand then that I was created for God alone to be with Him for all eternity. This understanding of life came a long time afterwards. However, there must have been some desire there, perhaps even a selfish one like wanting to save my soul, because He did entice me on from deep within!

 Sr. Imelda (right) with Marists in Colombia
Yes, somehow even then, I was attracted to serve others as Jesus did in the Gospel. Though my knowledge of the scriptures was minimal, nevertheless, I wanted to learn more because I saw His life and loving service to others coming through to me from other people and sisters around me. Their joyful dedication to others in their lives attracted me and for this I will be forever grateful.

Looking back now at that time, I remember how I felt a deep longing to answer God calling me to Religious Life, as I saw it then. However, I remember that at the very same time I did not want to hear nor accept it, as I had many other attractions in life, which appealed to me greatly. So I tried to forget how I felt within and arranged other openings to prepare for life, but the more I tried to get away from that inner call the more it bothered me. It was then I knew that nothing else would satisfy me and bring me happiness. When I answered the call to enter Religious life with the Marist Sisters, peace came to me. Of course the realization of leaving family was extremely painful and there was turmoil in my head for some time. This peace I talk about is beyond our understanding and in spite of challenges through life God gives us the strength to overcome difficulties. He gradually restores us to peace of mind, body and spirit, which enables us to serve Him in others very simply, day after day.

Vocation is a Gift from God to whatever walk in life one is called and for me to day, like anyone else, I am grateful for that Gift of Religious Vocation which by His grace is renewed in me each day.

Finally, I would encourage others today to discern if a vocation to Religious life, to spread the Good News of the Gospel, is for them? If so, we welcome them to consider the Marist Sisters and be the gentle Presence of Mary as 'wine for a thirsting world’.