Could you briefly explain how you first felt called to Consecrated Life?
Sr Anne Turba Professed Sister, Nurse Practitioner at Holy Family Clinic Home Catholic Diocese Green Bay: It was my First Holy Communion. You just feel that special closeness to the Lord. I think it is too, living on the farm. God and nature always touched me.
Sr. Concepción Medina, Temporary Professed Sister, Nursing Student at Bellin School of Nursing. Home Diocese San Angelo Texas: Specifically, in my adult life, I was at Mass and we were singing the Kyrie. It was like the Lord, knowing, this knowing that I was supposed to be a Sister. At that part of my life, I had not even known, met a Sister. And I was just bawling, crying the whole Mass and for two hours after Mass. That was my initial calling as an adult to Religious Life.
I remember my Communion. I remember dressing up in that beautiful white dress and feeling like a bride and have always felt at peace and at home in the Church. It was unexpected for me in my adult life but when I look back it just makes sense.
“I think the Lord starts getting in your heart when you are young.”
Sr. Anne: Like in your story of Holy Communion, I think the Lord starts getting in your heart when you are young yet, and then there are multiple things that keep you going because there are definitely times when I thought I was not going to be a Sister, but other things, people intervened. Certain people show up in your life, different experiences, God’s presence.
Sr. Concepción: I guess when I was two, I told my Aunt Ceci that I wanted to be a Sister.
Sr. Anne: Oh. Wow. He had it planted in you at birth.
How did you first feel or sense being called to become a Franciscan Sister?
Sr. Concepción: So honestly, when I decided to visit communities, I didn’t know anything about Francis. I had visited the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. So after I visited here, I was followed by St. Francis. He was everywhere.
Sr. Anne: You started noticing him.
Sr. Concepción: St. Francis was everywhere. The San Damiano Crucifix, it was in my cousin’s apartment. All of a sudden, it was this enlightening. That was when I tried to run away from him and go to Northern New Mexico. And little did I know that New Mexico was very Franciscan.
Sr. Anne: Got ya!
Sr. Concepción: It was just so funny. When we got to Santa Fe, I just needed to go to this Church. She said we just need to find a parking spot and we can do it. No, I need to go into that Church. Well then, park. Well, and behold, it is the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Well, I think that’s my first introduction to St. Francis. I just feel it was so wonderful and appropriate, because he was so very against what was acceptable for his time. I learned more of Francis in coming to the Community. My love for him has just grown and grown and grown I really like him. He’s a good guy.
Sr. Anne: He’s the best after the Lord.
Sr. Concepción: I don’t think I could live any other spirituality honestly.
Sr. Anne: Francis. Franciscans. I had Franciscans all through grade school. But even before that, again, the farm and nature. I remember when I applied to the convent in high school, it was definitely because of the Sisters, that’s why I came to this Community especially when I was a little kid in grade school, Sister Alma, she was my first and second grade teacher. I just loved her. Sister Anthony Marie, I had her in fifth and sixth grade. She was just precious. They were both elderly. Sister Alma, I figured out was 72 when she was teaching me in first grade. And then I got to take care of her in the infirmary as a nurse when she died. She was buried on her 104th birthday. What a delight. She had her mind up till the end. It was so cool.
“It was definitely the relationship with these Sisters that drew me to the Community.”
It was definitely the relationship with these Sisters that drew me to the Community. The Franciscan part of it, honestly, they talked about St. Francis in grade school. I loved Francis for his love for nature, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the trees, and the animals. And I remember when I applied for high school here, they asked why I wanted to come here and we were the Sisters of St. Francis so I said, “I love St. Francis. I love animals. And so did he.” That was my grade school response. But then, as you are here, it just grows on you more and more. Francis is a whole lot more than loving animals and having a bird on his shoulders. His total self-giving of just turning everything to the Lord. Simplicity of life. I just always loved that. Yeah, you just don’t need much. Live simply. Don’t need fancy stuff. I always appreciated that about our Community, too. There is a simplicity, the commonness of our life, no big show or fanfare.
“Live simply. I always appreciated that about our Community, too.”
But I just love him. God gets you where he can. I love the Sisters. That’s what probably clinched it. Sister Carmelyn and Sister Stephanie, they were young Sisters who came to our parish. Sister Stephanie was 28 and Sister Carmelyn was in her 30’s. They were so full of life and joy. I just loved them. They brought me here for a retreat weekend and then I entered.
Then the Aspirancy closed and I went home my senior year. I enjoyed being back on the farm and living at home. Well, then I thought of college and going to Marian College to be a nurse and then the Sisters intervene again. Sister Mary Frederick, she was my directress in high school, she came home to visit and I remember walking down the lane with her and just loving her, missing her, and people just get you where you are supposed to be sometimes. And then I came back for a retreat weekend.
“I don’t think I could live any other spirituality honestly.”
I remember going to confession to Norbertine Fr. DuPont and feeling like I thought I was supposed to come back. You can just go on with my life and not see it. O brother on the retreat weekend, I see all those I knew, and I said to Fr. DuPont, “I feel I want to come back, but I may be coming back for the wrong reason, the people, that doesn’t seem right. He said: “Well, how do you think the Lord gets you.” He was so cute. He said, “Do you love the Lord?” Yes. “Well, you are called to be with these people, too.” So, that got me back. It’s the grace in our lives.
I am so glad we focus more on Francis. When we were Novices we had Franciscan History. I couldn’t picture being anything else, either. It’s funny, even my nephew John who is a Norbertine, likes Franciscan Spirituality.