Discernment Question Series: What life goals and dreams did you surrender to Jesus in order to answer the call?

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

April 04, 2024

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sr. Marlita Hensler responds to one more question in a Discernment Question Series. Sr. Marlita is currently living at San Xavier Convent, Tucson, Arizona and serving in Hispanic Ministry.

What life goals and dreams did you surrender to Jesus in order to answer the call? What did that surrender feel like, both initially and later on? How do you reflect on that surrender to Jesus today?

During my days as a Novice, just before saying first vows for a year, I recall struggling with the vow of chastity in particular. Living this vow I would be giving up marriage, having children of my own, and being a mother. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to sacrifice that at age 20. The other vows, poverty and obedience, didn’t seem such a sacrifice at the time, but motherhood did. Was I willing to truly answer Jesus’s call and give up that privilege? I had experienced a loving, faith-filled mother whom I wanted to emulate. Would I be willing to surrender to God’s call and vow to God to remain celibate and chaste? It was not an easy decision, but one that I struggled with awhile. In the end I recall leaning heavily on the Lord to help me offer my mothering feelings to Him, to count on His love and grace to allow me to say YES.

Later even after final vows, when I fell head-over-heels in love with a very caring man, again that urge to be one loved and cared for, so in turn I might have and love my own children, returned to me. I was reminded just how special a vocation it is to be a mother. Since I had by then made my final commitment to Jesus, I prayed intensely to remain faithful and true, and by God’s graces, I was able to do so. I am forever grateful for that gift of faithfulness.

I have been generously blessed all through my religious life (59 years) to share what I would call the virtues of motherhood: love , compassion, caring and nurturing with many other persons whom I have served in ministries of education and pastoral care, and now service to the homeless and to the immigrant. It is God’s doing that gave me the opportunity to serve many, many more than I would have had I had my own family. What might have begun as a sacrifice became a true living blessing, and I am grateful.

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Article Comments:

Sr. Pam Biehl 04/09/2024 @ 9:19 am

Thank you for sharing your story of love and faithfulness, Sr. Marlita! It reminds me that God will always give us the grace we need to follow His call.


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