Hi my name is S. Evelyn N. and I grew up in a small rural community near Vawn, in northern Saskatchewan. I was second of a family of 7 children. I was raised as a practicing Catholic attending mass regularly Sundays and sometimes weekdays. Before the age of ten, I had thoughts of missionary life in Africa, probably due to being exposed to relatives and people from the community who had been.
Being taught music by the Sisters of Presentation of Mary, by the age of 11 I was beginning to accompany the choir in our church and becoming more actively involved in parish life. Assisting with the music at an ordination in our local parish when I was 15 years old, I experienced ‘Church’ as being much larger than my community but as a big extended family of believers together to celebrate our faith.
At school some of my teachers were religious Sisters. For my final year of education I attended a private boarding school in Bruno, Saskatchewan run by the Ursuline Sisters. During my time there I had the opportunity to attend daily mass in the morning or go to study. My workload not being too heavy, I usually chose to attend mass. It was a time of deepening my faith and choosing to make it my own. At the end of the year one Sister challenged me in asking if I had ever considered religious life. I was surprised, scared, honored, bewildered all at the same time. Why me? What did I do wrong? Or right? What does she see? For the moment I just said I had thought of it, (though I had never spoken about it to anyone), and that for the moment I was not ready. I needed to experience life, have relationships, work, be on my own and mature before I would be ready to make such a choice.
I trained to be a nurse through Kelsey Institute in Saskatoon and worked for a few years in Biggar, Saskatchewan. During this time I dated, I continued to be involved in the local parish and community. I attended SEARCH weekends and other voacational retreats. After a few years it felt more urgent to do some serious discerning and time to make a choice about what I wanted to do with my life.
After moving to Saskatoon to nurse I found out about Discernment weekends given by the Sisters of Presentation of Mary. I attended a few which were very good and helpful. But I felt like I needed more in-depth discerning which could not happen just over a weekend. At this time I found out about their live-in program for discernment which allowed me to continue working and to also be accompanied weekly in my journey of faith.
During my time of seeking and praying, the Lord gradually prepared me to respond to His call. Though I went there to confirm a call to religious life I was also in search of which religious community I was being called to….and I did not expect it to turn out being with the Sisters of Presentation of Mary. The Lord sometimes surprises us on the way.
This was only a first step. I have discovered on the way that we are never finished discerning as there is always more to discover in how to live it out day by day. Even within your call there is a call of where to serve and in what capacity.
Twenty years later, my advice and discovery has been to always search for what will bring greater life and greater love. To me that summarizes it all. Come to know yourself which means being attentive to the desires God has put in your heart. Observe how you respond to life, to others, to events, to God. This will reveal who you are within and will also open a path to follow. You are the only you and no one else has walked that road. You must create your life with your choices. May it always be a response to God’s invitation to love…. and may you know God is always there with you, every step of the way. For in loving fully with all of who you are you will also live fully. That is God’s desire for us: To have life and to have it to the fullest. Jn 10:10