Tag Archives: vocation

Former pro football player prepares to take final vows as TOR

TORONTO, Ohio, Jun 18, 20.- Every single vocation story is different, but Sister Rita Clare (Anne) Yoches is probably one of the more unusual.

Sr Rita Clare, who this month will profess final vows with the Franciscan Sisters of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother (TOR), was a four-time national champion professional football player prior to entering the convent.

Yes, that’s American football. (She was a fullback.) Nowadays, the only football Yoches is playing is the annual two-hand touch game she organises with the 38 TOR sisters she lives with in Toronto, Ohio.

Although she was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, Yoches said she never once considered becoming a sister. Her family attended Mass each Sunday, but that was about it in terms of her faith life. A talented athlete, Yoches earned a full basketball scholarship to the University of Detroit-Mercy, where she played for four years.

After college, she began her football career in 2003 after a successful tryout with the Detroit Demolition, a now-defunct women’s professional team. She left the team in 2006, and in March of 2007, the former self-described party girl experienced a calling to enter religious life. She ended her relationship with her boyfriend, and entered the Franciscans shortly after.

“(I) loved to stay out as late as could on Friday and Saturday nights, but always went to Mass on Sundays. But I never really listened to what God was saying,” said Yoches in a video about her conversion.

One Sunday, after a particularly moving homily, Yoches realised that she needed to drastically change her lifestyle.

“And I was like, that’s me. I’m sick and dying on the inside. So that convinced me to go to Confession for the first time in a long time.” Her priest provided her with guidance about reading scripture every day, and she began attending Eucharistic Adoration.

It was during Eucharistic Adoration that she felt truly embraced by God, and really began to get a sense of His plan for her life.

“And then I felt God the Father just wrap his arms around me and give me a hug, and just pulled me onto his chest like only a father can hug a daughter,” she said.

“And my life was forever changed. I just wanted more and more of Jesus.”

She says while her family was supportive of her decision to enter the convent, her friends were surprised, as she had largely kept her faith life private.

“People were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be,” she told the Detroit Free Press.

Sr Rita Clare will profess final vows on June 30. – CNA, 18 June 2018

Mexican beauty queen makes ‘radical’ move to religious life

MEXICO CITY – Esmeralda Solís Gonzáles is a young Mexican woman who was crowned last year as a beauty queen in her native town – and now she’s joined the Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament.

Twenty-year old Gonzáles has watched her story go viral over the last week on social media over a post on the Miss Mexico Facebook page.

Esmeralda was born on 12 April 1997 in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco State, to a Catholic family. She currently resides at the convent of the Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament of Cuernavaca in Morelos State, after leaving her career as a nutritionist.

“You really don’t know what religious life is until you’re within it. So far I have been able to see from another perspective what the world is and what it offers you,” Esmeralda told CNA.

“I was very happy with everything I had, but it does not compare with the happiness that God now places in my heart.”

The young postulant met the Poor Clare Missionaries some five years ago at 14, when her concern for a religious vocation “was awakening” through “vocational days, missions and camps.”

In addition, she pointed out how it was hardly a month after this process of discernment concluded  when in March 2017 she gave her first yes to her vocation on the Feast of the Annunciation.

“God’s timing is perfect. During this time (of discernment) he allowed me to have some experiences such as being a beauty queen, and other experiences, which forever left their mark and which allowed me to learn a lot for what was to come later.”

The discovery of the vocation to which she had been called was always present in her life like a “little thorn,” Esmeralda said.

“I realised that I had to make room in my life to know what it was that God had planned for me. In the process of discerning my vocation there were also fear and doubts, but the love that Our Lord was showing every day made me overcome any feeling of discouragement,” she said.

Esmeralda said she had discovered that God was calling her “to serve him in a radical way,” that is, changing her “life to embrace the cross of Christ and live it more closely.”

“I have been in religious life very little time, but I truly have been very happy,” she said.

In order to discover her vocation, Esmeralda spent a lot of time in prayer and charity, “knowing from the outside or from the world” what this change would involve.

“Change is hard for the family because it involves detachment, but I have always had the the support of my parents, siblings and true friends. Even though I could have developed myself in some other setting, I feel that if the Lord needs me then I can bear fruit in a different way,” she told CNA.

Esmeralda had a few words for young people and said that in any vocation they will find difficulties, “but if you go and take God’s hand, you’ll always be able to take the next step.”

“In religious life every new day is a new beginning and a new opportunity to extend the kingdom of God. This involves making a lot of sacrifices but they are always rewarded with happiness,” she said.

The young postulant also said that it is true that “the reality and the supposed happiness that the world sells  is very attractive” but “it is necessary to fix your eyes on what lasts.”

“You mustn’t be afraid. If God is calling you, he’ll take care of everything. All you need to do is receive him with a lot of peace, joy and confidence. I believe fear is a big excuse that is responsible for truncating the true happiness that only God can offer,” she said.

The Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right founded by Blessed María Inés Teresa Arias in 1945 in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The spirit of the Institute is Eucharistic, Marian, priestly, missionary, and is centred on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The missionaries work in clinics, youth groups, preschools and schools, university dorms, centres for the spiritual exercises, missions, among others. They are present in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, the United States, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Vietnam and India. – CNA, 30 Apr 2018

Neo-ordained Joshua tells his own story

joshua storyI was born and raised in Kota Kinabalu. Growing up, I have never thought of becoming a priest. I have always imagined that I would finish school, go to university, find my true love, settle down and build up a family. Even the purpose of me joining the altar servers at Sacred Heart Cathedral was because I had friends there, and it was the “in” thing back then. However, I found myself drawn towards the altar. I have also become fascinated with what the priests were doing at the altar and thought it was neat to be at the centre of attention!

The first inkling of priestly life probably came to me during the 2005 World Youth Day in Germany. At that time I was working part-time in an architect’s firm but thinking of furthering my studies. I could not make up my mind, and decided to take a gap year to think things over. However, when I told my father my plans, he suggested that I should take some months off instead.

Coincidentally or not, while wondering what to do during those few months, the option to go for World Youth Day in Germany was there. I finally opted to attend it as part of the diocesan contingent. It was also a chance to backpack around Europe after WYD.

While there, we were invited to spend about a week in Heilbronn before the WYD events. With us was Fr Francis Dakun with whom the whole contingent related closely.     My host family told me that they were shocked to see our bonding with Fr Francis and that they had not seen a priest being close with the laity in Germany. This somehow impacted me that our priests are indeed close to the laity. I started to ponder that if I ever were to become a priest, I would also do likewise.

As God would have it, the WYD events brought things into a deeper perspective. Seeing how small our diocesan contingent (twenty of us) when compared with the others, got me thinking about our Church in KK and in Sabah as a whole.

Having collected information from Fr Francis, I made some rough calculation and realised that the number of our priests back home was small!

I suddenly felt this urgency to do something about it and this feeling stayed with me throughout the whole event. On the last day during the concluding Mass, this urgency of doing something came to a point that I made a vow to consider the vocation to the priesthood if that was what it would take. This has actually caught me by surprise. It was also very scary because for the first time, I had serious thoughts about the priesthood.

This pondering continued to follow me even after I came back to Sabah. I was in a more confused state of mind but kept all these to myself. I was afraid of my dad’s reaction and that of my family.

My dad caught me by surprise when one day he asked me what I really wanted to do in life. I told him that I still wanted to pursue architecture but I needed more time. Interestingly, he told me that architecture does not seem like what I wanted to do. His talk turned to answering one’s calling. He shared that if I did not answer my true calling, it would make me a very unhappy person. He went further to ask if I had ever thought about the priesthood. This came to me as a real shock, not just because I have been constantly thinking about it but that my father had left the Church a long time ago. That day, I took this as a sign that perhaps God was inviting me to respond to his promptings.

What finally prompted me to respond came from an unlikely source: a colleague. Her incessant questioning and comparison of the differences between the different faiths brought me up short that there were many things about my own faith that I was not sure of.

My service at the altar presented me with many opportunities to ask the then Bishop John Lee all sorts of questions about the faith, as well as about the priesthood and how to respond to the vocation. He eventually directed me to Archbishop John Wong, Fr John Wong at that time, who was in charge of the aspirancy. From these encounters, my resolve to respond to the priestly vocation which God was calling me was further strengthened. I made my “Yes” towards the call to vocation at the 2006 Vocation Retreat and thus, a new journey began …

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