When I understood that God was calling me to be a sister, I was elated with joy and happiness. I fell in love with Christ and began to burn with the desire to belong totally to God.
I entered the convent in the summer of 1966 and on June 6 of this year, I will have been in the convent for 50 wonderfully happy years. I am in love and fascinated with Christ still.
My eventual religious consecration as a Missionary Daughter of the Most Pure Virgin Mary gave me the assurance of belonging exclusively to God and his kingdom and the necessary graces to be faithful. This relationship with Jesus completely satisfies my every desire, since in all truth I can do nothing except live for him. I am so embraced by God that I cannot do differently. All I want is to live and exist for God and to spend my life and use for him.
Some of the fears and obstacles I faced in making my decision to apply to the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary were born of personal selfishness. I liked the spirit and the teaching apostolate of the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, but found the facts of attending a novitiate in Mexico, of speaking Spanish, and the possibility of being assigned to work in a foreign country, challenging. I overcame these obstacles by praying, by sincerely desiring that the Lord’s will be done in my life. And, by the help of God’s grace, I was able to put God’s will before my own fears and reluctance. I was flooded with tremendous joy and God’s peace.
My religious life has been, and is, a source of joy, peace and fulfillment because I’m living out God’s personal call to me to fulfill a special mission in this life. God expressly invited me to accomplish a certain role: to be exclusively his, to be holy, and to spend my life serving the church for the sake of the Kingdom. Convent life, the community’s work, and the role of a religious help a sister lead a virtuous life and obtain eternal salvation. As a Missionary Daughter, it has been my honor, my peace, and my joy to serve the church in Catholic school education.
What changed my understanding about what would bring me personal fulfillment and inner peace are God’s free gifts of faith: of hunger for truth and knowledge of him, and of the desire to do his holy will in all things. That is, because I believed in God and in the church, I began to experience a great desire to know more about the Lord and my faith, and to know his holy will, especially in my regard. The living out of the teachings of the church and the Lord’s will in my life became all important to me. I came to the understanding that if we aspire to obtain eternal life, all things, without God or at the margin of his will, are vain.
Young people are told by society that sex, money and power are the three things that will provide them with happiness, but only a life in harmony with Christ can provide lasting peace and authentic fulfillment. This is exactly the crossroad in life that the young person seriously contemplating the call to the religious life must come to: Am I going to serve God or am I going to serve money? Am I going to spend my life serving God or serving my self interests?
It is important for career-conscious young people of today to understand that a vocation is not a job to earn a living, and that it is more than a profession or a career. A career-choice answers the question: What will I do? A vocation answers the question: What will I be? The young Christian needs to understand that everyone, and not just the clergy and consecrated sister and brother, is called to holiness of life.
The person who gives himself up to the pursuit of his temporal good alone will lose himself. Even though he may appear to have success in this life, he will have gained this at the price of his soul’s salvation. His happiness will last but for a little while as his apparent fulfillment will not be genuine.
One of the highlights of my life as a religious is to live in community with my fellow sisters. The call to the religious life basically involves two things: falling in love with Christ and wanting to live in community with others who have the same calling. The personal call by God, which causes the desire to live for Christ, also causes another desire: to live with other persons who hold the same fascination. It has been one of the greatest daily pleasures and satisfactions of my life to love and to serve, to live and to dream, to work and to play, and to serve the church and to pray with my Sisters, the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary.
Sister Armida is a Missionary Daughter of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, who has served in Catholic education in the Diocese of Camden since 1993. Currently Sister Armida is at St. Peter Catholic School in Merchantville.