Sharing: Discernment with Maryknoll Sisters


When starting my discernment, I never heard about Maryknoll Sisters as they didn’t have any convent in Indonesia since the independence of East Timor. Here is the story of how God prepares my way to Maryknoll Sisters which is quoted from my answers for applying to Maryknoll Sisters.
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 from his computer at that time. The next day, I met Fr. Ridwan Amo who also suggested joining Maryknoll. Both of them were taught by Maryknoll Sisters during their formation as seminarians in Bandung. I had not met both of them for more than ten years and yet they sounded so sure about me for Maryknoll.
I started to communicate with Sr. Leonila Bermisa, MM through email. In replying the question in Initial Discernment Form “What about Maryknoll Sisters do I find myself resonating with...”, I replied “After reading the website about Maryknoll Sisters, I find myself resonating with their spirituality and ministries. In Nov 2005, I wanted to join a contemplative, active and missionary congregation. That I find in Maryknoll. God has blessed and loved me for 35 years so I want to share it with others and the charism of Maryknoll is making God’s Love visible. I wrote my faith experiences in a book “Menghitung Berkat” (=Counting My Blessings).
Here are excerpt from Form A. How do I see myself participating in mission, and living in community with women of varied backgrounds, culture, races, ages? I will participate in pastoral work such as visiting the sick and abandoned persons, help families to have a better life financially and socially, contribute my writing and organizing skills to the community. I enjoy living in a multi-cultural and multi-generational communities as I can share my experience and I can learn from them.
Upon arriving the Philippines for live in, I answered the Form B. What is it about Mother Mary Joseph, the foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, inspires me? She is intelligent, ready to take a challenge, open minded, motherly, loving, joyful, and an easy-to-be-with person. She was the first smiling foundress of an Order that I saw. I connected with her when she said “Each of us has seen her own star and had the grace to follow it. That is the secret foundation and growth of our Congregation, for our stars – a vocation to the foreign mission apostolate – led us to Maryknoll.” I also connected with her when she said “…the longer you live and the more you see, the more you will become aware of the finger of God in the guidance of this work and your own spiritual development.” I was inspired by her when she smiled and said to Margaret Shea, “Let’s just go together and see what God has in store for us.”
Which aspects on the history/story of the Maryknoll Sisters impress me the most? Sending the first missioners to China, which was far away, with different language, and culture, and still have zeal even though facing so many problems there including imprisonment, war, disease, etc. I wish I know as much as the Maryknoll Sisters.
Here are excerpts from Form C. During my discernment process, I have come to understand the Maryknoll Sisters as …
· What I find challenging are the different types of personalities among the Sisters, different types of community life, and different types of ministries.
· What gives me hope is that we have the same journey to the Father, to be a missionary and holy person, no matter our culture, personalities and talents.
After two months in the Philippines, I couldn’t see any reason to turn back from this discernment. On March 23, 2007 I choose to seek membership in the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation because I think the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation is the most suitable Congregation for me in spirituality, in the way of expressing opinion/ideas, the way of living out the vows, the way of appreciating God’s personal call and talents, and the acronym (M.M.) has a meaning for me. Even though my English is still not good enough, I believe God will give me grace to speak my words to foreign men and they will understand (cf. Song “Be not Afraid”).
Sr. Leonila called me on May 24, 2007 to inform that I am accepted as a candidate and Maryknoll Sisters would send all the paperwork for the religious visa.
After facing computer problem at Surabaya Consulate General of USA so I should come back the next day for the interview, waiting the communication between the interviewer and Leadership of Maryknoll Sisters, I got one year religious visa.
I left my family and friends in Indonesia on Jul 26, 2009, arrived in Newark airport on Jul 27, 2009 and got 3 years I94.
I stayed in Chicago during Fall 07 and Spring 08 and in New York during winter 08/09. Here is the excerpt for my discernment paper for canonical year: “I am grateful for my first year of orientation as God gives me more than I ask or imagine in my relationship with God, community, personal, study and ministry life, therefore I, Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati, M.M. (Linda AB, M.M.), desire and wish to continue my journey to the canonical year of Orientation Phase in the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic Congregation.” I received the acceptance letter to enter canonical year from Congregational Leadership Team before leaving for New York on summer 09.
Here is the excerpt for my discernment paper for first profession of religious vows: “Finally, I am grateful for my second year of orientation as my school of knowledge, love and humility and also growth in self knowledge, and I desire and wish for first profession. Therefore I, Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati, M.M. request to make my first profession of vows in the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic Congregation.“
I moved to Ossining-New York since May 28, 2009. Our Congregational Leadership Team invited to attend their morning prayer on Jun 1, 2009. I was moved when we read the Magnificat to the God of Dawn and couldn't hold my tears when I said “Thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness...” I couldn’t continue my sentence. Sr. Bitrina Kirway gave an introduction and then Sr. Ann Hayden gave the acceptance letter for first profession of religious vows. It’s the answer of my discernment to religious life. No turning back.


“How does one find God’s will? We believe that we discover the will of God within ourselves. When we most clearly know ourselves, we best know where and how God speaks to us...We believe that God’s will is found in doing what we want at the very best and deepest level of who we understand ourselves to be.” (Inviting the Mystic, Supporting the Prophet, Dykman and Caroll).

Ossining-New York, Oct 18, 2009


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