FCJs in Asia-Australia tell the Stories of their Vocation

Caecilia Pirenaningtyas, novice fcJ  (Tyas)

Hello! I’m Caecilia Pirenaningtyas, known as Tyas, a novice with the Sisters FCJ since April 25, 2011. (I became a postulant in April 2010.  During my year of postulancy, my activities included visiting families in our neighborhood, helping young people and mothers to teach the catholic children of our neighborhood in Sunday school and running a weekly tutorial group for local children every Monday evening in our FCJ convent, Baciro, Yogyakarta.

Tutoring the local children. At Mass during the program for postulants.
Tutoring the local children At Mass during the program for postulants

In addition to this I participated in an inter-congregational study program for postulants every Tuesday and Wednesday. We were about 80 in all.  The first semester concluded with a cultural presentation at the Franciscan brothers’ monastery.  My part in the presentation was to read a Javanese poem and to sing a song about the river in the city of Solo, while a friend accompanied me by playing the guitar.

Salvacion Tejada Sodusta, fcJ (Ciony)

Photo of Ciony standing near Society Mandala.My name is Ciony. I was baptized Salvacion Tejada Sodusta born to Ilongo parents. I am from Naga Zamboanga Sibugay, south west Mindanao. I am grateful and joyful that my parents, especially my mother, told me that they asked for me from God and even offered me back to God as an expression of gratitude.

My vocation, I believe, is rooted in my own life and faith story. When my Mama was due to give birth to me, she prayed to the Black Virgin whom they called Nuestra Senora Salvacion. According to the story, my grandmother gave me the name Salvacion which means saved and to save, originally taken from the name of the Black Virgin.

I grew up with the guidance of our grandmother and learned prayers from her.  She is the one who taught me that what I am is a gift from God and what I will become is my gift to God. I was not able to understand it very well until I met the FCJ sisters who came to Naga. The FCJs are the first religious sisters I met. I came to know them and then they became friends. Their presence inspired me to know also what God wanted me to do. I was 14 years old when the idea of joining religious life became real to me, but Sr. Veronika Schreiner fcJ helped me to make priorities and focus clearly, rather than to jump to becoming a “madre” immediately. She encouraged me to experience more about life in the world, to finish my studies, work and then become mature and responsible in my choices and actions. She gave me the prayer of Marie Madeleine which became my personal prayer. The prayer is:“Lord I want nothing, but the accomplishment of your holy will, give me only the grace to do it faithfully as soon as it is made known to me.”

I didn’t really understand the prayer but I loved to repeat it day after day and I realized that when I made big decisions this prayer always helped me. So I have made my own version which says:“Lord you saved my life and who I am is your entire gift, I want to be a gift to you and to save others too, but I cannot do it without your help. Please grant me the grace to do it faithfully and lovingly. Amen.”

My journey with God up to this time is always inspired by prayers and reflections on how God holds me lovingly and faithfully.

Maureen Merlo fcJ

Photo of Sr. Maureen.During Year 12, all the class participated in a Passion Play to be presented in Holy Week. Each student was prepared by an FCJ sister. 

During one of the sessions, Sr Eleanor fcJ quietly asked me: Had I ever thought about becoming an FCJ? This was a complete surprise as the idea of a vocation had never entered my thoughts even though we often had talks on religious life. However, during the next months the idea remained and was stronger even though it certainly wasn’t what I desired at that time.  Yes, I did see myself as a teacher but an FCJ?

After some prayer and reflection, the idea persisted that maybe God was calling me to be an FCJ . My parents were very surprised and shocked when I told them and they asked me to wait for a while. So I trained as a primary school teacher and taught for a year. After this time the desire that God was calling me to religious life was stronger.  Even though my parents were not happy they allowed me to enter the novitiate.  They were quite confident that religious life would not suit me. However in time they realized that this is where I was meant to be and were very supportive.

After many years in religious life I am still happy to be living the life of an FCJ sister and very grateful to Sr Eleanor for sowing the seed of my vocation by asking that one question: “Have you ever thought about becoming an FCJ?”