Sister Lourdes Maria

I am the second of four children born to my parents in Iloilo City, Philippines. Many stories have been told that since I was two or three years old, I desired to be a nun. I would get a big towel, cover my head like a veil, and go to my father and mother to get their blessings. I would also go to my mother's small altar and cover the Baby Jesus so that he could sleep and not get a tummy ache.

But to me, my vocation started when I was 14 years old, at the Colegio de San Jose run by the Daughters of Charity. I borrowed a book, Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux. The following year, I was a senior in high school. We had an early typhoon and the left wing of our school was damaged. I headed the campaign to raise money to rebuild it. One teacher suggested that we stage an operetta on the life of St. Therese since it was near her feast day and we all agreed. The one who was to play Therese got appendicitis two weeks before opening night and Mother Principal suggested that I take her part since I already knew the lines. Our St. Therese agreed that she would sing from the wings of the stage, and I would do her acting. We raised the money we needed for the school and even a little more. Meanwhile my vocation started to stir in me and together with a classmate I secretly visited the Carmel in Jaro. She was two years older than I and she was allowed to enter right after graduation. The Sisters at Carmel said that in time they would accept me too but I needed a formal letter with my parent's permission.

With heart beating loudly I chose February 11 to ask my father for an early graduation gift. I would be graduating from high school in March and would be 16 by the end of May. My father refused permission, saying I was too young to consider that kind of life. Even my mother was not in agreement. My Father Confessor told me to obey my parents. I went to college, majoring in accounting and banking. Upon graduation I wanted to take the exams in Manila to become a certified public accountant, but I got a job at the company where my brother worked instead. After five years, I went home to ask my father if now I could enter the Carmel Monastery. He got a shock and had his first heart attack! My family blamed me and said I was being selfish to only think of myself. I took it as a sign that God did not want me to enter religious life.

World, here I come! I cut my hair and started to use cosmetics. I got a job at an international oil company and almost got married, but God had other plans. I moved to Manila, got my masters degree, and took my board exams. My company sent me to many meetings, and I loved to travel. I have gone around the world twice. I was in Rome when Pope John Paul II was elected and we were dancing as if we knew him. Then on one of those travels I passed by Lourdes, France. After taking a bath in that miraculous water, I felt like all the dirt in me was washed clean. Then I sat in front of the statue of Mary and prayed with a lot of pilgrims. For some reason , I asked God, Now that my brother and sisters are all married and taken care of, what can I do for you? It was as if I heard a voice saying, Come find your rest and work in my vineyard! I got so mad with God. I told him, Why now? I was ready to go anytime when I was still young.

I kept this in my heart and continued working. Finally I went to inquire at the Pink Sisters and the Carmelites in Quezon City. Before I went home the Pink Sisters gave me the application papers to fill out. I had to face my family, and this time I did not ask but just told them that I would enter. The morning of my entrance, I went to a friend's wedding. After, I drove my car for the last time and went straight to the convent in my wedding fineries. I changed into my white postulant's habit, but forgot to remove my lipstick. When the Sisters congratulated me, someone mentioned that it was the birthday of one of the Sisters. I kissed her and left lipstick on her cheek!

Quickly I found myself at home and my family eventually came to peace with my decision when they saw that I was happy. I savor fully the joy of entering the house of the Lord!

Return to Top