My name is Sister Bianca Camilleri. I am a Franciscan Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I reside in Glassboro and belong to St. Bridget’s Parish.
I am a retired teacher, but presently I volunteer as a librarian and liturgy coordinator and do whatever is needed at St. Michael the Archangel Regional School in Clayton. I also substitute when needed.
I grew up on the island of Malta. My family was very religious and very active in the church. My father’s job urged him to be in the hospital very early every day, but he never missed the 4:30 a.m. Mass which was called the Farmer’s Mass in those days. Dad firmly believed that the Eucharist was the center of his life, especially when dealing with his patients. He led different groups of the Legion of Mary and was very devoted to the Blessed Mother. He also travelled to bring Christ to others, as Peregrinazio pro Christo. My mother always stayed at home taking care of the family and made sure that we went to Mass. My father had a great influence in my life, and I thank him for his good example.
I am the second oldest of seven children, five girls and two boys. Three of the girls became sisters, two of us are in the same congregation and one a Carmelite. The rest are all married. I attended Catholic school with my younger sister. This was a private school run by the sisters in my community.
My first thoughts of a possible vocation were at an early age, but I always put off the idea of being a sister. When I was a freshman in high school I began to realize the importance of my vocation. I was inspired by the sisters with whom I spent time going on retreats and outings. They helped follow what the Lord was asking of me. I was also inspired by my cousins who were also in religious life as sisters and priests. My intense desire to become a sister and a teacher grew daily as I continued to feel that I wanted to be consecrated to the Lord. I went to Mass almost every day with my mother, brothers and sisters and I prayed to God to show me the right road. We never went to bed before we recited the rosary together as a family. I feel that all this helped my vocation to become stronger.
Parents need to teach their children how to pray and instill in them the importance of prayer. My vocation has always been a source of enjoyment and I have never regretted being a sister. My goal was always to be with children and to help them grow in God’s love. Six years after entering into religious life, two of my younger sisters answered God’s call. Sister Salvatorina, who worked for 40 years in the Holy Land, is now with the Lord after a fatal car accident with two other sisters four years ago. Sister Vittorina is a Carmelite.
My first assignment was in the Holy Land, where I spent 14 years teaching in the city of Nazareth. I would never hesitate to recommend to anyone to consider a religious vocation, to listen to God’s call and to serve his people. I love being a missionary even though I was always far away from my family. The Scripture tells us: “no one will give up mother and father, brother, sister or material things in this life that will not be rewarded a hundred times over.”
I hope that by my witness I will be able to inspire others to take the risk of responding to God’s call. I would like to tell parents to encourage their children to pray, listen to God and do not turn away from his call. I will tell young people that it is a privilege and a joy to serve the Lord and his people which I enjoy with all my heart. In all my 57 years of religious life I never regretted one day. I love being a sister, being with children and helping those in need.
I answered God’s call. Will you?