Sister Anita Mary
of the Blessed Trinity (Custodio), O.C.D.
Date of Entrance: September 14, 2012
To our dear family and friends, praised be Jesus Christ! What a joy to anticipate and celebrate this day with you! My heart is so full of gratitude for each one of you, for each has played an indispensable part in bringing me to this moment, the depth of which we won’t know until Heaven. Thank you and may God reward you, for it is your willingness to say “yes” to God in big and small ways that supports the “yes” that I pronounce “forever” once but is made up of countless “yeses” every day.
Each Mass is a little bit of Heaven as the King of Kings condescends to come into the form of food for His beloved and His whole court comes along to sing His eternal praise, but sometimes our human senses need a bit of extra help to grasp this incredible reality. I experience that bit of extra help each year when we sisters gather with our family and friends and our beloved priests to celebrate professions and jubilees; for me, it is a tangible of experience of the whole Church united in praise, the family of God celebrating our Good Father. This year, as was the last, will be different from the packed church that we were accustomed to having year after year, but the reality remains: we are united, Heaven meets earth as it does at every Mass, and the thanksgiving of the Eucharist, the sacrifice of praise will be made in the unity of hearts in the one Heart of Christ.
Though it would have been a great joy to be able to greet each of you in person, I am grateful knowing that your prayers are behind us, your virtual hugs are around us, your hearts are with us. And we hope that you’ll be able to join us via livestream!
Please be assured of my daily prayers as well as those of our sisters, for you and all your intentions, as our Mother Luisita would say, “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be your refuge.” May you truly know His irrevocable love for you and find a secure home in His Sacred Heart.
With much love in Him,
Sister Anita Mary of the Blessed Trinity, OCD
Get to know Sister:
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 20.
How did you find out about the sisters?
I came on an eight-day Ignatian silent retreat which was hosted by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary serving at St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens. It was at the time that I “happened to be” at a stage in my vocational journey where I thought that “if” God was calling me to be a religious (which I felt sure He wasn’t), I would be a Carmelite, though not knowing what that meant. And the retreat “happened to be” at Sacred Heart Retreat House which I didn’t realize was home to the Carmelite Sisters until I turned my car into the driveway… of course, Our Lord had it all planned perfectly.
What first drew you to the community?
There was “something” that told me I was home as I passed those gates, and as the week went on, there was again “something,” something special, something important and unmistakable, that I sensed from the sisters as I passed them quietly throughout my retreat, though I couldn’t put any words to it then. I think it was Mother Luisita’s spirit that was coming alive in me, called on by that same spirit living in the women who would later become my beloved sisters.
What is one of your biggest joys of living Religious Life?
Having grown up somewhat like an only child, as there is a considerable gap between myself and my older siblings, it has brought me deeper and deeper joy to journey towards Heaven with 120+ sisters who reflect the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to me in countless ways–by their example, by their willingness to keep me on track, by their simple presence and gift of self.
What advice do you have for those who may be discerning a call to Religious Life?
Be convinced of Jesus’ Love for YOU: relentless, personal, head-over-heels, to-death-and-beyond LOVE… for you. He loves you as He loves no one else and the more you are convinced of this and live in His love, the more you will know yourself and the beautiful gift He wants to make of your life. And if you aren’t yet fully convinced of His Love for you, don’t waste time worrying, just ask Him to show you and for the grace to receive, and He will give it.
What are your thoughts as you prepare for final vows?
If you know me, you know I have a lot of thoughts so you know this can be a challenging question for me… but the first thought that comes to mind is that I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve the beautiful religious family I have, the formation I have received and am committed to continue for the rest of my life, the invitation to cleave to Christ and love His beloved with all of my life.. and it is true. I did not merit any of this, this is my Divine Spouse’s pure gift! And my prayer in these last few weeks before I say “forever,” which is the same prayer for the rest of my life is that I continue to grow in my receptivity to all that He offers me, all that He asks of me, all that He gives me to love.
One of the life lessons you’ve learned while in Carmel?
Be yourself. This is one of the first pieces of advice I received when I first got to know our sisters, and my understanding and living of it has developed and deepened a lot over these few years. It is pretty simple no-brainer advice that is so needed and so difficult to truly follow in the world we live in. God has a beautiful plan for each of us, a unique facet of His infinite beauty that He wants to show through each of us, but that He is in a way powerless to carry out and give to the world, unless each is willing to accept the “me” He created and whom He loves, just as he or she is, here and now, in process toward that beautiful plan.