It is always God who takes the initiative in the lives of the people, because of this reason, our hearts must be the fertile ground so that the seed may sprout and grow. It is through this image that I recall back with joy the history of my vocation. As a missionary sister, I offered myself to God through a witness of life and self-offering, serving the people in simplicity, poverty and obedience.
A vocation born in the family
The parents are the first persons to have the responsibility to help their children to choose their vocation. I say this with freedom and experience; In fact, my parents helped me in my vocational choice. I accompanied my parents in their social and religious activities at an early age, especially my father. They visited the sick to give injections, together with the community they cleaned or construct houses for the poor, animated the people to participate in the church activities (reciting the rosary and the novena during the month of May…), gave suggestions to other couples, etc.
As a teenager, I became a catechist for the children of the First Holy Communion and as a result, I met the PIME fathers, missionaries truly dedicated to the people without calculating the costs and sacrifices. They really fascinated me!
The challenges of the vocation
Feeling strong in my heart the call of God, I sought help in discerning my vocation in prayer and in the advice of friends. In this restless search, I also had many doubts and uncertainties, but they were part of the vocational discernment of religious life: “the foolishness that God invented to confound the world”. I met several institutes, but I identified myself immediately with the charism of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate through the PIME fathers. Thus, I entered in the institute even before I could complete 18 years, encouraged by the “missionary passion to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples”.
“Mission is leaving”, said by mgr. Hélder Câmara. Mine was a continuous parting, with many experiences and missionary services: from the first departure for the United States, and then, from Amazon to Guinea Bissau – in Africa at the age of 22 until the last years of my return to Brazil, in the northeast of Bahia and then in the south of São Paulo.
In all these places, I had the grace to perceive how much God is present in the people, humble and suffering, but marvellous! I worked in the pastoral care such as with young people, catechesists and in listening. I dedicated myself to the promotion of women. I learned from the ‘aged people’ of Guinea Bissau to listen and to hear. I thank all of them!
Everything for love
I now celebrate with great gratitude the 50 years of my consecration. Despite all the difficulties, I lived this beautiful experience: “To know Jesus in faith is our joy; follow him is a grace; transmitting it to others is a task “(Document of Aparecida, 18). It is amusing to see how our vocation is realized in the midst of the people, for the people and by the people!
I always remember with great joy what Mother Igilda, our foundresses, once wrote to me: “Everything you do as a missionary sister, do it with love and dedication, so that Jesus may be known and loved by everyone”.
Sr. Rosa Maria de Oliveira (São Paulo – South Brasil)