The Story of Sr. Mary Emmanuelle

To be quiet with the Lord is to feel that deep joy, that inner peace.

I grew up in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines and went to a high school taught by the Franciscans. I often thought about becoming a sister, but not seriously because I wanted to be somebody…a successful career woman.

I was very diligent in my studies and had as my role model a favorite teacher, a very dynamic woman. When I was in college I heard that she had become a Franciscan sister, and that startled me because she had so much to give up. I reflected a lot on that, but my ambition was still to be a successful CPA.

As I prepared to take the final CPA exam I was praying very hard to pass it. Then one day as I was kneeling before the crucifix, I felt my desire to pass the exam fading away. I found myself telling the Lord that if He would just let me work for a while, then I would enter the convent. My view of life underwent a profound change. I went ahead and took and passed the exam and went to work in an office. Advancement was rapid and I became engrossed in my work. Then one day I met one of my friends in the Franciscan order and the yearning returned.

It was as if I was being torn between the love of my work and wanting to enter the convent. A passage from the Bible kept beaming in my ear. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

I was considering entering the Franciscans when one day a friend asked if I’d like to see the “Pink Sisters.” I had heard of them, but the minute I entered their chapel, I felt something different. Soon after, I wrote to the vocation director and then visited the Pink Sisters in Manila several times. It was the first time I had seen cloistered sisters and I wanted to be sure that this was the kind of life the Lord was asking me to live. Finally I mustered the courage to leave my family, my job and enter.

It was a wonderful feeling just to surrender to the Lord and feel His guidance. And then when I was asked to come to the United States, it was another challenge to my faithfulness to the Lord — to leave my family, my country. But in accepting it, once again my relationship with the Lord deepened. Each time I accepted the challenges relying on His strength, the bond of love became stronger.

I have learned that God has called me not to an easy life, but to a life made easy by His presence. To be quiet with the Lord is to feel that deep joy, that inner peace. And that is why I pray that when other young women hear His voice, they may not harden their hearts.