Sharing: My Vocation Journey

As several friends were asking about my vocation journey, here is my vocation journey which was compressed from 11 pages of my autobiography for applying Maryknoll Sisters.
I studied in a Catholic school from kindergarten and was baptized in my third year of senior high school.
I discussed with a priest regarding my intention to become a sister when I was in the university but he said, it was better for me to remain as a lay person, to have children who will become a priest or a sister. Finally I gave up my intention to become a sister because I thought I could do ministries even though married.
My short fiction story was published in HIDUP magazine in 1990 about a young woman who decided to become a sister even though she had a serious relationship with her boyfriend (Please read “Cerpen: Maafkan Aku, Theo...”).
I submitted three vocation prayers for writing vocation prayer competition held by my parish in which one of them won the first prize.
I cried during Pentacost 2004 when a Daughter of Carmel sister pronounced a prophetic word that there was a woman who got a special call from God. I started to ask God whether it for was me but according to my close friends, the prophetic word was not for me.
I was in the grotto of the Daughter of Carmel Monastery in October 2005 when I cried because I realized how good God is and started to think about my vocation. I cried three times that day and for approximately one month, I always cried when thinking about it. One day a child sang one of his songs after the Eucharist in my parish and I cried when thought that even still just a child, he had a ministry already but I didn’t even have one at 35 years old.
I told my friend that I would follow God’s will whatever my vocation, but I didn’t know my vocation yet. I asked Holy Spirit’s guidance to find my vocation as my special intention in the Eucharist celebrated by Fr. Yohanes Indrakusuma, O.Carm. His homily was about the obedience of Mary and the Wedding in Cana. I stopped to cry during lunch even though I thought about my vocation. I had two hours counselling with Sr. Stefani, P.Karm and informed her that I was looking for a contemplative active missionary congregation. I started to think to discern my vocation seriously.
I had personal retreat under Sr. Stefani’s guidance and I started to know about the Daughter of Carmel. I was not sure what to do, so I had a general medical check up since to be a Daughter of Carmel, I should be free of Hepatitis B. Fortunately, I am free of Hepatitis B.
Then, I really thought seriously of giving up my job. It was not an easy decision because it was a good job. Finally I informed the management that I wanted to make a personal retreat for several months and I decided to resign starting February 28, 2006. One of my staffs asked me whether I wanted to be a sister, I asked why she thought that and she replied because I had made several retreats and reminded her of her friend who used to be a seminarian.
Several days before my last day in the office, I was in front of my computer and thought “Why was I?” Suddenly there was a voice but it was not in my ear and not my own mind but it was very clear, “It is because I received a lot”. It was really God’s blessing that I could be a branch manager for almost five years and accomplish a better performance even with smaller team. That’s why I was ready to give it up.
I had an interviewed as a required step for living in. Since there was a family consideration, Sr. Immaculata, P.Karm decided to postpone the live in schedule. I believe that it was a God’s will even though I had already prepared for living in by wearing skirt as requested.
I visited RGS convent for one week and I still was not sure about my calling to RGS.
I thought a congregation which follows Ignatian spirituality might fit me because I kept in touch with a Jesuit priest when I was in the university. Fr. A. Soetanta, SJ informed me that FCJ Congregation is using the Ignatian Constitution. I attended a recollection for young women held by FCJ sisters. I met SS.CC sisters at that time but did not have an interest to visit them yet.
I attended the Asia Pacific School of Evangelization 2006 in Canberra. I could not hold back my tears many times at different occasions - including on the last day, when Sr. Therese, MGL reminded us that we are called to mission forever. (Please read “Sharing: Asia Pacific School of Evangelization”). I also attended school of personal evangelization in Surabaya once a week for 16 months prior to that.
My friend Mrs. Tuty, who gave me a book “Religious Life: The Meaning and Challenge” by Tom Jacobs, SJ when I graduated in 1994, suggested that I had a counselling with Sr. Elizabeth, FMM. I met her and I did not color the human since I did not know what was the color should be used. According to her, human is the symbol of spirituality and it means I did not know my spirituality yet.
After that, I visited SS.CC convent for three days and I realized that I resonated with a Love Spirituality because my favourite color is pink.
I visited Fr. Agustinus Surianto and he suggested joining Maryknoll. He looked for Maryknoll’s website at the Catholic Directory of Indonesian Church, opened the website and asked me to send the preliminary form at that time. The next day, I met Fr. Ridwan Amo who also suggested joining Maryknoll. I had not met both of them for more than ten years and yet they sounded so sure about me for Maryknoll.
I continued my counselling with Sr. Elizabeth, FMM and then lived in SS.CC convent for ten days as part of my getting to know them. At the last day of morning’s prayer, I cried when we read the opening prayer. The theme was “Journey” and ended with a poem “Counting the Blessings”. The reading was taken from Hebrews regarding the calling of Abraham, and the day before, I read the book “Following God’s Call” by Judette A Gallares regarding the same topic.
I had a chance to attend perpetual vows of FMM sisters that made me touched when the entrance song began. I was also touched when one of the sisters took the perpetual vows and heard that she would be sent to South Africa.
There was a quote of II Cor 12 : 9 : “My grace is enough for you: my strength is revealed in weakness” in a bulletin board in the dormitory room of FMM and in the ordination card of SS.CC priest that encouraged me to surrender to God totally even though it is not easy.
I went to the OCSO Monastery Rawaseneng to have a one-week personal retreat with Fr. Frans Harjawiyata, OCSO. He told me that the important thing in a Religious Life is my relationship with God. If I was not brave enough to commit to one of the congregations that I knew, it meant my vocation is not for religious life. I should decide when I will commit to one congregation since I already had visited several congregations. I read the book sent by Sr. Leonila Bermisa, MM: “Mother Mary Joseph: Maryknoll’s First Lady” which mentioned the Dominican Constitution adapted by the Maryknoll sisters. I decided to visit Dominican Sisters and asked to read the Dominican Constitution. Several priests said I should make a decision as soon as possible since I had enough time to discern but I felt it was not the time to make a decision because I did not visit Maryknoll yet.
I visited the Divine Providence convent and OCSO Monastery in Gedono. I read the Divine Providence, SS.CC and FMM constitutions.
I read the book “Hearts on Fire” by Penny Lernoux which made me cry especially the part about our martyrs in El Salvador Sr. Ita Ford, MM and Sr. Maura Clarke, MM; smiled especially when I read about the earrings of our first President Sr. Barbara Hendriks, MM and thinking about the habit and its role for the religious person. I decided I did not want to wear a habit and to be called by own name to minimize any privilege as a sister. (Please read “Sharing: Pink Habit” and “Sharing: “Why will I have a “Religious Name”?)
I passed the final examination on Master’s degree so I could use the title M.M. after my name. It is one of the signs, why I thought about Maryknoll.
In celebration of Epiphany, I thought that it was great that I would go to Maryknoll Philippines after Epiphany to realize that my star is there. (Please read “Sharing: Kegiatan “Live in” di Filipina”).
I went home upon finishing the live in for 4 months and received acceptance letter to be a candidate of Maryknoll Sisters in June 2007. I left Indonesia for USA on July 2007 (Please read “Sharing: Summer 07 in New York). For several reasons, I told my friends that I was in orientation as a candidate of missionary and only few of them knew that I was a candidate (=novice) of Maryknoll Sisters.
How beautiful that my discerning with Daughter of Carmel led me to RGS as a priest said that I should look for more than one congregation before making a decision. RGS led me to FCJ which led me to SS.CC. The trip back from SS.CC led me to Maryknoll which I heard for the first time but made me think seriously about it.
I usually pray “Say a word Lord, I am listening” but I did not hear anything as I wished like Samuel, but I know that God prepared all the way to make me understand His will. In the beginning I do not know what would be happened in my discernment. I started my journey by bringing a candle which only can give light to walk step by step, opened my heart to the Holy Spirit to lead me to wherever He wants me to go, learned from Mother Mary to treasure all these experiences and continually ponder over them (cf. Luke 2: 19).
And after almost three and half years of discernment, I can see where my star is and here I am Lord, I come to do Your will as a Maryknoll Sister.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I will do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude)

Ossining-New York, Sep 9, 2009

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible