When in Formation, what made the most impression on you in terms of embracing your vocation? Something that reinforced your sense of being called?

“What I was learning as a novice really has carried through in my life.”

Sr. Carmen Marie Diaz (Home Diocese: Los Angeles, California): I think for me it was the Novitiate, in and of itself. The idea of cloister. What I was learning as a novice really has carried through in my life. There are many times that there are certain phrases that my directress said or dealing with Community or how to interact with people or explaining things that I didn’t understand. I do thank Sister Patricia Linssen for being the example, the model, and also being able to understand where I was coming from and still be able to help me put things together … in what I needed to be and still be myself.

“I think it is important…. to be ourselves.”

Sr. Maria Guadalupe Martinez Lopez  (Home Diocese: Raleigh North Carolina):  : I think it is important, as Sister Carmen Marie said, to be ourselves. Everyone is different. The idea we have our own personality and we have to be able to care for one another and accept others and be ourselves. When I was discerning, one day I went to a retreat and there were a lot of things that led me to discern in Religious Life in a more serious way and it was ‘going to the deep’. It was Jesus asking Peter to go into the deep. Because I was just looking for a Community that was close to my home and in that gospel, I felt like the priest was saying just like Jesus told Peter don’t be afraid to go into the deep, to look, to go where God is sending you even if it is far away so that really inspired me.

“If God was calling me to this Community even far away… God will take care of me.”

If God was calling me to this Community even if it was far away that God will take care of me. And also the Eucharist has been a powerful sacrament. There was a season in my life when I had no more hope in my life, there was a woman who came to my house and brought me communion every day that summer and she would read the scripture to me, she told me you have to go to Mass every day. I started to go to Mass every day and I felt healing. The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist whether it be in the tabernacle or by going to Mass has given me strength to continue, to be at peace and have that relationship with Jesus.

So far, what has been the most challenging for you?

Sr.Carmen Marie: I think always trying to look for a certain amount of balance between our vocation and our advocation, in particular, as we work as in my case as educator. Our job is not just something from 8 to 5. It goes beyond that to integrate that with the schedule of our Religious Life, prayer time, Mass and so forth. It was always a challenge to try and keep, to give each the proper time it needed. There were sometimes when I needed to be present to be more present to the teaching aspect and then being able to be part of our schedule, however. It wasn’t less. I never gave less of myself to God.

I would leave it all in God’s hands. God would take care of me, and the situations. I just had trust in that. We will all know when we have to give more time to work and not to forget that God deserves that time also somewhere else that would be for me and continues. I am more settled with the idea of the waves.

Sr. Maria Guadalupe: Some of the challenges for me were my own challenges. We sometimes carry things with us that need to be addressed.  There has been a lot of help from the Sisters and the priests and so I am very thankful for that. God says I am with you. He doesn’t take it away. He’s there through those difficulties and I found that is enough even though those difficulties don’t go away that God is present. He still speaks to me and through many different ways, through Mass through other people. He lets me know He is with me.

Some other challenges are we rub shoulders with each other or sometimes we expect too much of each other. Sometimes that can be hurtful. It is important to understand that people struggle, that all of us are not perfect. I make mistakes. People make mistakes.

Sr. Carmen Marie: I think for me, what you are saying, we have a variety of people. Some we get along with right away. Some people we don’t. How do we continue to love each other? I can love everyone but do I like them is another question. But I think that’s the challenge and the beauty of our life that God has given us that, that ability and cultivating how we live with each other and being able to overcome maybe some people’s crustiness and be able to see them as individuals loved by God and so if God loves them there must be something there to love and we have to look for it. Sometimes a little deeper for some people.

“…how I respond to people has to come from deep within.”

It is a challenge. I think for myself, given the different experiences that I have had God has been very good teaching me how to live life with each person and the good times and the bad times and how I respond to people has to come from deep within. Either way we found a middle ground, and how we react must come from love.

Sr. Maria Guadalupe: Thank you, Sister.

What has been the most surprising for you?

Sr. Maria Guadalupe: Most surprising for me is that I didn’t think that I was able to continue with my education, that I would be able to study for my education major because before coming I was thinking that I was just going to continue to work where I was working. It was a good job. I didn’t expect to finish my whole degree. I think all that I have been given to continue my education with the Sisters and also that I am able to interact with children and they are the most surprising creatures.

Because when they just say a funny thing that strikes you or when you see a child just waving and smiling, that they are so open to anyone, open to receiving love from us. I just think children are the ones who are surprise and are ever new and fresh.

Sr. Carmen Marie: I continue to be surprised so I don’t know if I can say what it is in formation. I came with certain ideas about Sisters, learning that not all those ideas were correct or needed some adjustment, let’s put it that way. I think we do that in any kind of relationship we’re developing. We idealize a lot. Our expectations when they’re not met or people fall off the pedestal that we put them on we need to reevaluate, and realize it’s not the person, but ourselves and our ideas, because they had no idea what we thought of them and suddenly we can be disappointed, we can be angry, not understand and we need to come to the awareness that we set up these expectations.

These poor people who had no clue. We expect to have them read our minds and that doesn’t work for ourselves, the other individual is left questioning.  I just think being open and honest as you can allows that person to be open and honest with you. Sometimes it means taking a risk, a question that you’re not sure another is going to be able to answer, but trusting that God is directing you and not that it makes you superior and it can’t let us make us arrogant either. It is that we are truly seeking a relationship and where that relationship will take you.

“I had good friends, but it is nothing to what I have developed here in Community.”

I came when I was 20 and I had good friends, but it is nothing to what I have developed here in Community, living, crying with individuals, being real with people in a way that I can’t be real with my family. This is my family now. Am I surprised by that? I think because of my own personality, being kind of laid back, it’s just part of my life. I’m just grateful for that.

You see other relationships, they also have negotiated their own relationships and so do we. I have to say there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my Sisters. There really isn’t. It doesn’t matter who it is. But that is what I’ve had to come to feel and believe for myself.

What has been the most rewarding for you?

“I am not educated just for myself but for Community and for others.”

Sr. Carmen Marie: I think for myself, and Sister Maria Guadalupe touched on it, the ability to continue my education. I’ve been most fortunate to continue my education and learn from others that I am not educated just for myself but for Community and for others.

Any kind of education I get, and I can speak from going through getting my masters and getting my doctorate that that doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, it is in itself an honor for all of us and that I have an obligation and responsibility to share that. And I have been able to do that, through my teaching, experience in high school and college level and those are opportunities that I am grateful for.

“If there is something that is more rewarding for me being a Sister it is that I can be close to Jesus”

Sr. Maria Guadalupe: I also agree with Sister Carmen Marie. One thing that has been for me has been rewarding for me is loving God and loving others. I feel that my relationship with Jesus has improved. If there is something that is more rewarding for me being a Sister it is that I can be close to Jesus, than I can pray, talk to Jesus and tell him what is in my heart that in some way or another, he answers me.

Because even with all my sins and my mistakes, I feel like they do not define me. God can bring about good, from something bad. He reached out to me. The most rewarding thing about my day is when I go to prayer, when I go to chapel and I just either tell God what I feel in my heart or just sitting there and waiting for him to tell me. And some way or another even if I don’t realize it, he always answers.

If I ask Jesus a question, he answers in his own time, in his own way. The idea of making vows, that the Lord has taken my vows that I made, he has taken me as his own, that even though I might not be perfect, I might have made mistakes during my profession or whatever it might be, I am his. I am his bride. And that’s what I believe. That I have that kind of relationship with Jesus. And that’s what I really want to keep developing that even I get too many things to do or other meetings or things like that.

I will always will have that time with the Lord, that kind of relationship, I don’t want it to go away, to lose that prayer life.  But also that it is not just Jesus and I, it is that relationship that helps me to love others. And one day Fr. Placid said, and it really touched me, that “ In the end we will be judged not in how much we know Jesus but how much we love others. It is a combo. They go together. Receiving God’s love and giving His love to others. Receiving His mercy. Seeing God in others.  That is what is most rewarding to me.