an interview with
Sr Rebekah Marie
What were your misconceptions about Religious Life before discerning it?
Before I felt drawn to Religious life, I had so many misconceptions about it – all I could see seemed negative - all the things I'd be giving up - family, friends, home, career, marriage, children, freedom... like a life-long lent! I didn’t think it was something that could make me happy or bring me fulfilment.
Who inspired you on your journey?
I was inspired on my vocation journey by the saints! Especially by Our Blessed Mother and her amazing YES to the unknown will of God for her, as well as by St Therese of Lisieux, whose beautiful autobiography “Story of a Soul.” really impacted me. There were also my brothers at the CFR’s (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) – who were such an inspiration, living examples of the joy of being totally for God.
What was your greatest worry when discerning your vocation?
My greatest worry when discerning was the idea of leaving one of my little brothers behind… this little brother is particularly special as he has the grace of having an extra chromosome, Downs Syndrome. As the eldest of his siblings I spent my teenage years caring for him, like a little mum, teaching him how to cut his food, to brush his teeth, to read, everything, I was there at every step. And when God called me, it seemed almost easy to leave everything else behind, but not my little brother, I felt so responsible for him. I guess it was a “holy temptation,” a good reason for not doing God’s will. But God was good and showed me, that if He took me, He would take care of my brother in my place… and as He’s God I trusted He’d do that a lot better than I ever could.
'It’s such a joy to live in poverty and to really rely on providence and to see God providing.'
How is the lived reality of your vocation different to how you had perceived it?
The reality of living contemplative life is so radically different to what I had perceived when growing up. It’s such a beautiful life! It’s so full of love, peace, joy, freedom…because it is full of God. It really is more than one could hope for, because it’s a taste of heaven already here on earth.
How has living your vocation brought you joy?
Living my vocation as a contemplative sister has brought me such great joy in so many different ways. There’s the fundamental joy of being where God wants me to be, of living in His will. There’s the joy of discovering who He created me to be. There’s the joy of being enveloped each day by His presence in prayer, of constantly hearing His word, and of learning more and more about Him…and all that with sisters who share the same desire to know and love God. What a gift! It’s also a great joy to be a visible witness of Christ in the world, it’s so wonderful to proclaim Him just by wearing a habit! It’s such a joy when people come to talk to us about God or ask us to pray for them. There’s also the joy of having nothing and yet having everything!! It’s such a joy to live in poverty and to really rely on providence and to see God providing, to see how much He takes care of us…. There’s really so much joy: “to be near God is my happiness!” Psalm 72.
'To anyone else who is considering following Jesus in contemplative life: you are so blessed if He is calling you to this way of life! Don’t be afraid!'
What have been the highlights of living out your vocation?
The highlights? There have been so many graces but two stand out particularly, entering noviciate and making my perpetual profession, the alpha and omega. The first step out onto the deep, the first moment where I offered myself to God remains with me, I was amazed that day because although nothing changed exteriorly (we receive our habits later on) everything changed on the inside. I gave myself to God and He received me. And then perpetual profession, to be anchored in God for eternity, “You I me and I in you”(Jn 14,20) such an indescribable gift.
What would you say to someone else considering Religious Life?
To anyone else who is considering following Jesus in contemplative life, I would say: you are so blessed if He is calling you to this way of life!! Don’t be afraid! He wants your happiness and you will find it in Him, in doing His will. Just "Follow the Lamb wherever He goes"(Rev 7)! And make this your prayer: "Bend my heart to Your will O Lord!" (ps 118)