Sister Mary Jozefa

He called me, and I answered his call. I had a great desire even as a child to be someplace where I could always be close to Jesus, and I thought the answer was the convent. I believe the seed of my vocation was planted on the day of my Baptism, the day when I became a child of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus saw me in my godmother's arms and smiled, saying to himself, I choose her for my little bride. So he planted the seed, and he himself gave it growth.

I was born in 1934 into a big family in Schaesberg, now Landgraaf, Limburg, in the Netherlands. I was the seventh child, and nine years after me my youngest brother was born. My parents were very good Catholics and had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They also loved St. Joseph and St. Gerard Majella.

As soon as I learned to talk, I learned to pray. The whole family would often walk if the weather permitted to a little chapel of Our Lady on a hill which belonged to our parish, about a half-hour walk. We also made a yearly pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Gerard Majella, which was a three-hour walk. I joined them for the first time when I was about six years old. I loved it. I also received my First Holy Communion when I was six years old. After that we went almost every day to Holy Mass and received Communion. My mother told us when we would rather have slept a little longer, There is vacation from school but not from Holy Mass. But she did not push us; she had a way of making the Church attractive.

When I was in fifth grade, the Sister at school suggested that each time we passed a church, we should walk through it, going in one side and coming out on the other. I would go in the church, then hide by the St. Joseph altar and pray there for a while. The Sister also suggested to pray every day for a good vocation. She said it could be any kind of vocation, either marriage or religious life. I followed that advice also, but I did not think about becoming a Sister since I did not like the Sisters at our school. When I was 13 and in the school of economics, the Sisters teaching were Franciscans from Heithuizen and I liked them. I thought that if I ever become a Sister I would join them.

A year later, when I was 14, my sister Fienie suggested that I go with her to the Holy Spirit Mission Sisters who were taking care of the old people in Kerkrade. We could learn many things there and would also have some instructions. I did not want to go, but because I liked Fienie so much, I gave in. After only a few months I found that I really liked the Sisters, and I was happy because we had the opportunity to go to Holy Mass and Benediction every day. They also had a holy hour every week. Every day at Benediction I felt sad when after the blessing the priest returned the Lord to the tabernacle.

When I was about 17, I told my spiritual director who was a Divine Word Missionary that I wanted to be a Holy Spirit Missionary Sister. However, he told me that he believed that I was being called to the contemplative life. He gave me a book on Mother Mary Michael to read. I liked it and although I felt drawn to that way of life, I still wanted to become an active Mission Sister. When I was in the chapel I would count whatever I could to see which was the best between the two Congregations founded by St. Arnold. Always it was the Pink Sisters. Towards the end of the three years that I was in Kerkrade I had a dream of Blessed Maria Virgo, and she called me to herself. She said to me, You will go to the convent and you will have to suffer much, but you will be happy. Now after more than 50 years I can say that this dream came true: I was and still am always happy.

My spiritual director suggested that I should visit the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters in Steyl and spend a few days there, which I did. I was not yet sure about entering, but those days helped to convince me that I belonged there. The Sisters gave me the papers to apply. I filled in the papers and they gave me permission to enter. My mother wanted me to wait another half-year, but I thought that since the date was set I could not change it. I entered on May 7, 1953, a beautiful spring day with all the fields in blossom. What happiness and peace I experienced, and I never regretted following God's call. I thank him every day for my beautiful vocation, this undeserved grace. I love him, above all!

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