We wish to offer you some reflections from the sisters making their final profession in 2019, as well as the beautiful stories from their parents. Sister Gianna will make her Final Profession in July, 2019.
Reflections from Sr. Gianna
Full of Joy
I recently had the opportunity to see several friends from college at the SEEK conference in Indianapolis, sponsored by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). In fact, a couple of them now are on staff for FOCUS to my great delight, serving the Lord as lay missionaries. When I ran into Mary, I let out an exclamation of joy and gave her a warm side hug for her sweet baby, Eva, was strapped to her front. I stepped back and just took her in. She did the same to me, seeing me in the Carmelite habit for the first time. “Oh Sister… I love it!… here we all are, 10 years later, happier and holier, becoming who we are meant to be!!”
By “holier” we both understood that to mean “committed to the struggle,” having tasted victories and defeats in loving the Lord and letting Him love us in the adventure of living for Him. No one has “arrived” yet! The main point of Mary’s statement is that happiness and holiness flow from becoming who we are meant to be.
Pursuing and testing a call to the religious life has certainly been an awe-inspiring adventure for me these last ten years! This beautiful encounter with Mary released yet again a flood of gratitude in me for how far I have come and how far I have yet to go in this special life of union with my beloved Jesus. I eagerly look forward to laying down my will, heart, life, all of me on July 21st, and humbly and gratefully saying with Mother Luisita, “For me, nothing is lacking, I have found the fullness of joy in my Carmelite vocation.”
Reflections from Les and Libby Heinemann
We were not at all surprised when Sister Gianna told us she was interested in visiting a few convents. We knew her heart was tender and searching for what her future should be. We were excited but we told her that we wanted it to be a convent that was close to the Midwest. Well, that didn’t happen! When she first told us that she felt the Lord calling her to Carmel in California, I started crying because it was so far away and when she said she would have to give up her cell phone and laptop and keeping the many pictures that I like to take, I was distraught. She told me, “Mom, once you have seen a picture, it’s in your mind and is clear as can be.” The Lord brought that home just a few days later when my pregnant daughter-in-law went by on a four-wheeler with my husband and I said, “Oh I wish I had a picture!” and the Lord told me: “Here it is in your mind.” and it is as if seeing it today.
The Lord started breaking down preconceived ideas of what a religious was…. a loss of talent?…no! it is so much richer now. She is writing music, composing songs, taking organ lessons and God has so enriched her life! Somber?…no, the Sisters are the happiest people I know.
I think just as the Sisters are learning obedience, we as parents also learn obedience along with them! When we’re disappointed and we can’t visit longer, God comforts us. We are learning to “lean into the wind “as we encounter the difficult moments when we miss each other. Comfort has been listening to Carmelite CDs. When my husband puts it on to take a nap in the afternoon he says: “I want my daughter to sing me to sleep!” We are very proud and humbled that God has chosen our daughter to have this religious vocation with the Carmelites!
One blessing we have discovered is how many people are fascinated with religious life and it has been a wonderful opportunity to share our Catholic faith. We can often say: “Don’t you want your children to be happy, have a fantastic spouse, and live in a happy home?” Her example of commitment is teaching us to have greater faith.
We thank the Lord that we can be a part of this wonderful community.