The Pursuit of Happiness

Sometimes I run into or hear from old friends,  relatives,  acquaintances who ask me if I am happy with the choice, I have made. If I want to continue at the convent, if I like my lifestyle, etc. I also get told I still have time to back out. A cab driver once asked me if I think nuns should marry.

Did someone motivate me, Did I always want to do this? I feel like yelling, “it’s none of your business”, to the people who I do not know. But I do not want to be rude. Would I be asked the same question if I was a doctor or a lawyer.  Would people ask me if I was happy with my choice, If I want to back out of this ?

I know my life is a counter sign in an age of money, power,  and gratification. Or is God just talking to me through these people. Making sure I am ready and prepared for vows, making me think long and hard before I make a deeper commitment.

I am making first vows in July. And three years later I make final vows. I am so ready for this. Over the years my vocation has become stronger and I do not want to turn back the clock or wish I was somewhere else.





Called By Name

I became Sister Solana, yesterday in a beautiful ceremony. This is the stage where I received my veil and will be living the vows as I prepare to take them. My brother was down from Canada. People I know since my time in Florida were also present, people from church, the prayer group, as well as families of the other sister’s. They came to support us and wish us well.

The name I chose Sister Solana, has been inspired by the late Fr. Solanus Casey. Fr. Casey was a priest in Detroit, with an unusual background. He had a learning disability and was deemed unfit for the priesthood. Fr. Solanus somehow pulled through, and was made a simplex priest. He was not allowed to hear confessions or preach in public. 

Fr. Solanus, accepted what came his way and make the most of it. God began to use him. He was assigned to be a doorkeeper at a monastery. He would be the one who would greet visitors at the door and tell others that someone was here to see them. 

Fr. Casey began to show an interest in the visitors while they waited for their appointments. They began to tell him their problems, and people began to be comforted in his presence and many were healed by just talking to him.

Visitors flocked to see him, and this was disrupting the life at the monastery, so Fr. Casey would be transferred and people would track him down and the same things would happen all over again.

Fr. Casey soon became the most popular priest in Detroit without preaching a single sermon!

Fr. Casey fits into our charism with special learning needs. His humility also stands as a an example, when vocations are driven by ambition to trust in what God has in store for us, even if it does not meet our own expectations. Fr. Casey did not get angry or bitter at the church for making him a simplex priest, but would often thank God in gratitude for considering him worthy to serve in some way.

During his exams at the seminary, he would pray that God would only give him the questions, he knew the answers too, and it turned out so.

Fr. Casey was in the habit of thanking God in advance for what God was going to do.

It’s not know what disability Fr. Casey had, because he was not diagnosed, but all evidence points to a language based disability.

I hope I can live up to his legacy, his cause is now up for canonization.

Please pray for me, so that I may be God’s humble instrument in the same way that Fr, Solanus Casey was.





A Lesson in Gratitude

Last week I was scheduled to travel to Toronto to see my family. On the first day, the flight was delayed and then canceled. I was given a flight for the next day in the evening. I had to spend the night at the airport, in Detroit. On the second day, the connecting flight was delayed and I missed my flight, which happened to be the last flight for the day. I was told that the next flight to Toronto would only be after 2 days. I decided to go back to Florida. I could not get a hotel room, because it took forever to connect with them. So goes another night at the airport.

The next day, I was set to take the morning flight to Florida. When I was getting ready to board the plane. I was told I could be put on a flight to Toronto. I took them up. The flight was delayed and it looked like it might be canceled. I had less than an hour to make up my mind, about taking a flight back to Florida and to walk to the gate, which was on the other side of the airport. Thankfully, I made it in record time, the plane was delayed by some time, but we still made it.

I spent three days and two nights in Detroit, in an airport that was freezing. I made friends along the way, was texting and calling the sisters as well as my family, who were praying for me.

It was like a dream, that was so rushed. I wondered why God let me travel at this time, if I had to not go there in the first place. Could God not have saved me the trouble, the cold, the anxiety, the exhaustion?

I discovered something along the way, about myself, that I was stronger than I thought I was. It’s like a tea bag that does not know, how strong it can be until it gets into hot water.

I have come to cherish and appreciate life more, as well as have compassion on people who suffer or struggle.

I have found joy through this experience, confidence, and inner freedom, as strange as this may seem. I am also grateful that God kept me safe and in good health through it all, even though I was missing days of medication.

I have to still travel home, next week. I am done with connecting flights for now. Hopefully the weather is better next week, and I make it to Toronto safe and sound.

A Blessed Year

As we move towards, the end of this year and the end of my candidacy, I reflect on how this year has been.  I have pursed my calling to religious life in this community. I have grown to love the charism, my sisters in the faith, the students, and our ministry. I have  overcome my fear of some animals. (The cats now sleep on my bed). I have been through the initial honeymoon, to the desert with Christ, lost myself for a while, and was uncertain, and then restored with the strength of Christ.

The kids have been asking me to play Christmas music in my classroom, since October. I always told them that it was not time yet. It’s now the most wonderful time of the year. I will be spending Christmas with the sisters and going home to see my family in January.

When I return, I will be entering the novitiate. I will receive my veil, and a new name.  A name that might forever seal my identity and new life in Christ. The novitiate is a time of two years, where we study our vows in depth, and prepare to make them.

There were times, when I wondered if I should go ahead with this, if I made the right choice etc. God has reassured me that this is where HE wants me. I do not know what the future will bring, but I do know that God will walk with me every step of the way, in the new year to come and always.

God has shown me how idolatry was a part of my life, the things I placed before God in my life. I have decided to let go of them, and die to myself so I can live in Christ. I am prepared for a radical self-offering of myself.

Love Of Neighbour

I am the only Canadian, in an all American convent. Recently, we were discussing politics, and I said something about American foreign policy, that offended my American sisters. They were like, “so Canadians hate Americans too”. I do not hate America or Americans. There are many things I love about this great country.

My views are were just based on what I had been taught in my political science classes. I had no idea that they would be so offended by them.

I was challenged to be more open-minded, to have a balanced view of things, and to understand the American perspective for doing certain things.

This is a challenge I accept, and it got me thinking.

Is this how those on the outside view the church? Do they take time to be open to truly understand the church and her teachings.

As hard as this is, and I wish I did not have to deal with certain issues. I do, and I am not sure if this is God’s way of putting me in the hot seat to be more understanding of my neighbour and those who I may not always agree with.

I do not know.

The Joy of Religious Life

A new film called Light of Love, features the joys, struggles, and journey’s of nuns in five different communities across the United States.

This is so beautiful, it could be a series in itself.


Ave Maria!

Since I joined the Epiphany community, I have witnessed miracles taking place. Food multiplying itself, people bringing us the things we need without being asked for.

The most significant one has been the presence and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our community knows a couple here that owns some restaurants.  On August 15th, the feast of the Assumption, they came to visit the school. This is the first time his wife came out to see the school, and her birthday is on August 15th. She is not Catholic.

Sometime last year, the community gave them a statue of Mary,  that they put in one of their restaurants.

They have some atheists employees that did not like the statue being there, and so moved it away from sight. The owner did not like it, and she put the statue back where she had put it, at the restaurant in the front.

Last month, the same employees were working at the restaurant, and nobody else was around. The statue lit up and started moving around.

The atheists employees  were shocked out of their minds. This lasted long enough for them to get a bit on their cellphones.

The couple saw this as a confirmation from God.

Earlier , they had made a decision, that we did not know about. They were going to retire, but had decided to keep the restaurants open just to make money for our school and our kids.

Our Blessed Mother is with us, and we were thrilled that God cares so much about this community, to do this for us.

This community has been through a lot. When it first started out in 2000. It was attack by those who did not want us around in the church.

Despite the attacks, the community kept getting stronger.

Every time we get distressed, God sends us signs and wonders to reassure us.

We are praying that Our Blessed Mother is going to help pave the wave for us to get to the Vatican next year, to get papal approval.

A Second Chance

Every sister in this community has a disability of some type.  I am on the autism spectrum.  We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and are accommodating each other by helping each other out with what we need help for. For instance if someone is a good organizer, she helps someone who might have trouble with organizing etc.

Our way of living flows into our ministry, with those with learning disabilities, in our school and college, where we educate and accommodate others.

Currently I am a TA for Math and Science and a teacher for Art, with the youngest kids in the school. In this group the youngest is five and the oldest is ten.

I learnt that keeping them busy with something, they are interested in is the best way to get them to calm down and get good results from Dennis the Menace (seriously)  since most of them are very hyper boys.

I am tired and exhausted just being around them, since I am on the quieter side, but I cannot wait for the next day.

How crazy is that?

They are also visual learners and love art. The school teaches them math and science like they teach them art.

They ask me questions like, “Are you almost a sister?” and once even asked for my Mum’s phone number so they could call and complain about me. LOL.

What’s strange is that Math, Science, and Art, are subjects that I disliked the most in school, along with my fear of being with animals, along with social anxiety.

It’s like God is giving me all those things that I struggled with, but in a different environment, and I am discovering that I am actually getting good at some of these things.

It’s almost as if God is giving me second chance at life. To live the life I missed out on, but in a different way.

Candidacy Begins

I was inducted into the community on August 2, 2013.  I received my habit, but not the veil. I also received the community cross, which I love.  We celebrated by going out to dinner.

My Mum was here with me for a few days, to help me settle in and meet the community.

I struggle to wake up earlier than I am used too. The sisters do not let me work directly with the animals, because I have sensory issues and it takes me a while to get used to them. School starts on the 15th.

I love the community’s mission, but sometimes wonder if I can live on a farm. I am just not used to being so close to nature and sometimes insects come into my room too, and so do frogs.

I am really trying. I wish God would have chosen a different venue for me, with the same sisters and ministry, but I guess God knows what he is doing, and I have to place my trust in him.

I help out with what I can. I am still awaiting my schedule so my assigned duties become more clear to me.

I do miss family and friends and Canada.

I have a sense that God is calling me to abandon all my fears and just trust in him.

As the old hymn goes, “One day at a time Jesus, is all I am asking from you, help me today, show me the way, one day at a time.”

Knock And The Door Shall Be Opened

The Jerusalem community, told me that I was not being called to their community. They said, I have a special calling, just not there. Another rejection. But, a lot has happened since, then.

I went to visit the Community of the Epiphany in Sarasota, Florida. The sisters minister to those with learning disabilities and autism spectrum.

My trip was planned for three weeks. I was asked to join the community the second week, I was there. The foundress, told me I was a good fit for their community and their way of life. She also asked me to come to North Carolina with them, for a retreat. So we all drove to NC and had a great time.

On my part, I am open to the will of God. I know that discernment is a two-way street. The community has to approve you as much as you approve them.

The community has a school, and a college coming up soon. The kids at the school are the one’s that are slipping through the cracks. They tend to get into a lot of trouble, and end up in jail. The sisters are trying to make sure they do not get to that stage, by dealing with the root causes of their problems, in addition to educating them.

The foundress Sister Gichrist Cottrill, was with the school sisters of Notre Dame, before she started this community in 2000. The community is still very young, and is waiting for papal approval. This might be finalized sometime next year.

I will be entering this September. I have tons of things to do to prepare myself for this new journey in my life.

The sisters are amazing, but with a new community doubts abound, so please pray for my vocation, for the community, and also for them to grow in numbers and get more vocations. This is a much needed ministry in the church and in the world.