I Answered Yes…
I was born in a small town in Argentina and was raised in a happy family, lacking for nothing. I was brought up by my parents in the Catholic faith, and I took an active part in our parish life. When I was 15 years old, the parish priest invited me and the other youth of the parish to join him on a mission trip to some villages. This was the first time I had ever come face to face with poverty – both material and spiritual. I realized that I had been given so much while these people…. From that moment, I started to think about the blessings God had given me and I began to ask myself, What can I do for others? This thought kept returning. Later, I understood that it was the Lord knocking at my heart. I confided my thought to my confessor and he helped me seek discernment of God’s will for me.
And this is how I decided to give my life to the Lord and enter the convent. I told my mother about my plan and she started to cry. I asked her why she was crying, saying, “Aren’t you always praying for vocations?” “Yes,” she answered, “but I was praying for the vocation of others!”
Then I had another decision to make – which religious family should I join? Once again, I turned to my confessor for advice. He handed me a number of leaflets and the addresses of the various Religious Congregations.
“Make your own free choice,” he told me. “However,” he continued, “I know of a Congregation of Sisters that would perhaps be of interest to you.” He handed me a leaflet from the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver. I prayed for a long time that day and I asked the Lord to guide me. In the end, I decided to join the Order my confessor had recommended.
I wrote an initial letter of inquiry and received an immediate reply. But the reply to my second letter never came. I began to worry that perhaps the Sisters did not want me after all. Three days later the letter arrived! I entered the convent on April 29, 2000. The first Sister I met was Sr. Maria Leal – who would later become my Mother Mistress. When we entered the house, I met the other Sisters of the Community – they were very friendly and welcoming. I immediately felt at home, even though everything there was completely different from what I had experienced in my life up until then.
A year later I arrived in Rome and in November 2001 I began the novitiate. I will never forget the day of my First Profession! I was very excited and moved. Even now I cannot find the words to describe everything which I felt inside my heart. I lived an indescribable intimacy with God. I could not stop thanking Him for the gift of life and a vocation. I could even feel the spiritual presence of my parents, accompanying me with their prayers though they could not be with me. When I read the formula of profession I thought I would not be able to speak the words out loud. That day I lived very strongly the moment of the consecration and communion with Christ. “Here, Jesus, the Lord of my life, come into my heart – I am all Yours.”
I would like to say to those young people who one day hear a voice inside themselves, like I did, do not be afraid to leave all and follow this voice. Only Jesus is able to give the happiness for which we are all searching. Jesus needs your hands, your hearts to bring his consolation and love to the many who are waiting. I have found happiness and I would that you find this true happiness as well.
~Sr. Sandra Ortiz, SSPC