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I can't believe I'm here! Countdown to profession...

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I can't believe I'm here! Countdown to profession...

How many days left? 28 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes, and 2 seconds before first profession, that is, publicly professing the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience as a Daughter of St. Paul.

How did I get here?

Me?

No, this isn’t about me. My daily 'yes' to God's invitation is only a drop in the ocean of 'yes-es' uttered by every person who has lived to seek and follow God's will. In truth, only God knows completely how I got here.

The first time my heart felt that God might be calling me to religious life, I said, “You've got to be kidding! Me? Why me?” I could imagine Jesus looking at me as I expressed my amazement and confusion at this. He has been my best friend since I can remember. Like Peter, I have denied him many times. Yet, he always makes me feel loved. So I decided to give it some thought. 

After some years of discernment I entered our Postulancy program here at the Daughters of St. Paul. I was excited and full of hope! For me, it was a new adventure! There was an outpouring of prayers and well wishes, love and support from family and friends. And I kept hearing, "I hope you persevere." Of course, I knew religious life wouldn't be easy. 

And so it began, right before being admitted to Novitiate, my grandmother passed away. Someone’s death can sometimes feel like a tornado that wipes you out of everything in the blink of an eye. All the excitement and sense of adventure started to fade away. There was so much sadness, fear, insecurity, confusion, grief.... My grandmother always reminded us, her family, that our life is a gift from God that he freely gives and takes away… so we must hold on to the hope of heaven. And my sisters in community are a witness to this same hope. They chose this way of life so that humanity may find its way to heaven, to spend eternity in the loving embrace of God. But what about those who die each day without knowing God, who die alone, who die in the midst of war, or take their own life because it is unbearable? Somehow these questions weighed upon me and I felt pinned down, unable to get up. And little by little it felt like I was being stripped of all that I thought was dear to me.

"Do not be afraid. I am with you." Each day, I saw these words in our chapel and I was supposed to experience the presence of Jesus in my life through the Word and the Eucharist, but most days I just felt angry at God. I knew I was surrounded and held by the love and support of all of my sisters in community, yet there were days when I felt numb and I just wanted to be alone. Some, more than others had to put up with my mood-swings. They encouraged me to fix my eyes on Jesus, to share my gifts, to develop my strengths, to accept my limitations and to be patient with myself. They challenged me to change, to grow, to become more human. They forgave me more than 77 times even when I was too proud to apologize. In my weakness, God poured grace upon grace over me.

The day that I received news of my admittance to first profession was the second anniversary of the death of my grandmother. Ah! In heaven, she also walked with me all through my Novitiate journey! There was so much joy, so much peace and consolation that day. How can I express my gratitude to God for his daily invitation to unite myself to Jesus on the cross in order to live in his love? I turn to St. Paul's letter to the Philippians for words to express my thanksgiving, "For me to live is Christ." (cf. Philippians 1:21)

On August 30, I will profess the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience as a Daughter of St. Paul. Like Mary on that Easter morning, I have seen the Lord in the faces of my Sisters in community who look at me with the love of Christ each day. With them I share one love: Jesus Christ, and one burning desire: to give him to souls (Bl. James Alberione)

Sr. Cheryl Galema (novice)


To my co-novices, Sr. Theresa and Sr. Julia Karina,
Thank you for all that you've shared with me. You're the best!
Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, make us saints!

 

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Comments

  • Congratulations, Sr Cheryl, and thank you for sharing. I pray for your intentions. Peace and Christ in you.
    8/18/2014 2:20:12 AM Reply
  • Congratulations on your profession Sr. Cheryl Galema. Thank you for sharing a part of your journey. May the Blessed Mother always watch over and protect you. The "Paulines" are on my prayer list. Thank you for your service.
    8/6/2014 6:06:38 AM Reply
  • Sr. Cheryl, That was a beautiful story, Congratulations and God be with you always. J Keefe
    8/6/2014 1:44:44 AM Reply
  • Dear Sister Cheryl, as my spiritual director told me before ordination, the Peace and Joy you feel are the results of a fruitful Discernment. Congratulations. I saw by Charm's greeting that you are an oldest sister. Hopefully one day a niece or nephew may follow your example and enter religious life. May God continue to abundantly Bless you and your loved ones.
    8/5/2014 8:36:40 PM Reply
  • I am certain that your grandmother is indeed with you from heaven. And I have had the grace of having a pastor who radiated such faith as I have never before seen. I was ill when this occurred but my husband came home from Mass and told me, "Fr. Tuz's sister died and he spoke about her death with such joy"! Fr. Tuz was known for his saying, "You think it's good in this life? Wait until you see what's next"!!!! It's one thing to say that as a generalization but to be able to do so when it's your own sister who has died is something else. Your grandmother is experiencing joy that none of us can even comprehend!! I have been quite ill for the last 14 years, & when Tuz was pastor, he always came to see me even when I was in isolation. And he always anointed me saying, "Well, now your bags are packed so whatever happens you're ready". And I always felt ready afterwards. One time the doctor came in and while I spoke with her, Fr. Tuz quietly picked up the ball of yarn I had been winding & finished it for me. He is still serving with the quiet joy of faith and the assurance that, when his time comes, he will meet the One who has loved him before he came to be. Now with your feelings after your grandmother died, consider the fact that King David lusted after another man's wife, had that man placed in the front line in battle, certain that he would be killed so that David could then legally marry Uriah's wife, Bathsheba and then married her! That's a lot of sin! Yet God still loved him with the tenderness of a father whose son has taken a candy bar from a store. Do you think that if God could love a murderer, that he can't love you? Honey, of course He does!!!!!!! After my mother died, one of my sisters was worried that Mom wouldn't go to heaven because she had been angry at God for a long time. Another sister put it best. She said, "Mass murderer or missed Mass"? My mom had her own purgatory here on earth with a disorder much like Alzheimer's called multi-infarct dementia (a medical term for multiple strokes which caused dementia). She lost the last 15 years of her life but went back to Mass with my father. I still miss her but am sure that God forgave her and welcomed her into His loving arms. So enjoy your profession and serve God with gladness! I will pray for you. Mary Lou
    8/3/2014 4:35:03 PM Reply
  • Thank you for answering God's calling. Those of religious life are in my thoughts & prayers. Pace!
    8/3/2014 6:19:33 AM Reply
  • Beautiful little article Sr. Cheryl! I'm so much looking forward to the Profession!
    8/3/2014 6:10:11 AM Reply
  • Dear Sis. Cheryl. Congratulation. Thank you for saying yes to God. God bless you and your ministry.
    8/3/2014 2:30:47 AM Reply
  • Dear Sister Cheryl, This was so beautiful to share, we are so fortunate to have you.....and the other sisters....congrats to all of you.....we need you all! Honestly, this really touched me....Thank you. God Bless x
    8/2/2014 4:46:49 PM Reply
  • Sister Cheryl treasure these days they are truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us and God bless you now and throughout your years as a Daughter of Saint Paul.
    8/2/2014 4:19:15 PM Reply
  • Dear Sister Cheryl, You will become a true bride of Christ and I wish and pray that you have the gift of final perseverance. I have been a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth "forever" and just reading what you wrote above has, once again, "inspired" me. I re-lived my "call" all over again through you. God bless you dear Cheryl and thank you for sharing your thoughts as a soon-to-be Daughter of St. Paul. Our Sisters were always very friendly with the Daughters when they were here in Philadelphia and I believe also in Florida. May Jesus be with you on the wonderful journey ahead. Sister Frances Veitz, CSFN, Ed.D Holy Family University Philadelphia, PA
    8/2/2014 4:17:58 PM Reply
  • Beautiful Testimony, Sr. Cheryl; I will pray for you.God Bless! Lourdes Deserpa
    8/2/2014 4:00:03 PM Reply
  • Congratulations! How exciting!! I feel your joy and anxiety and I will keep you in prayer. Don't worry continue to Trust and fix your eyes on Christ. He will guide you and never leave you alone. I rejoice for you and all who will make their profession. May you be Blessed with peace and all good. United in prayer always. Sandy
    8/2/2014 2:35:23 PM Reply
  • Hi Ate Chiqui or should I say Sr. Cheryl?Congratulations! I know for sure that nanay (grandma) is sooo happy and proud of you. And me too, so happy for you! God bless ate and hope to see you.
    8/2/2014 11:42:30 AM Reply
  • Congratulations! God bless you and all your family. Be not afraid! I will keep you in my prayers.
    8/2/2014 9:29:41 AM Reply
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