Religious sisters in the Diocese of Corpus Christi celebrated National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), an annual celebration that took place from March 8–14, with an event at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Alice. Twenty young people joined 17 religious sisters for a daylong celebration on March 12.
Established to honor women religious, NCSW is a series of events that instruct, enlighten and bring greater focus to the sisters’ lives. It is an opportunity for people to recognize what religious sisters have contributed to their community. It is also an opportunity for young women to learn about women religious in the hope that more will choose to follow their example.
Sister Gloria Rodriguez, MJMJ, Director of the Office of Consecrated Life in the diocese, said youth from the rural areas of the diocese were invited to a gathering with sisters at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Alice. Flyers and bulletin announcements were sent to the parishes in the Alice Deanery inviting youth to meet the sisters serving in the diocese.
“Young people in the rural areas have little or no exposure to sisters,” Sister Gloria said. “We began with introductions. Sisters gave their names and their community. At first, the youth were extremely quiet. They spoke to one another in whispers. As we began to play games with them, they laughed and relaxed.”
After the ice was broken, the event became a “real celebration atmosphere”, Sister Gloria said. One of the main challenges was for sisters who had to travel 60 miles in rainy weather. It was also the week of Spring Break for schools.
“We were concerned that the youth would not show up,” Sister Gloria said. “We decided that we would work with those that did arrive. Fewer than we expected arrived, but it worked out wonderfully.”
The youth sat at tables with sisters, without anyone asking them to sit with them. Both youth and sisters wore t-Shirts with the theme “You Are Mine”. Some sisters wore them over their habits. They took pictures of each other in a “picture frame”.
After engaging in some games, such as a “balloon stomp,” which required a great deal of physical activity, the players were tired. As they sat and took time to catch their breath, something unexpected happened, Sister Gloria said.
“When you were in high school, did you know you wanted to be a sister?,” a girl asked.
This opened the door for sisters to share a little of their vocation story.
A boy mentioned that he “might” be interested in the priesthood. Father Julian Cabrera, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was present and explained the difference between a diocesan and a religious priest.
Another girl asked, “Did you ever feel like you wish you had gotten married and had your own children?” The sisters answered all their questions honestly.
A group from the hosting parish asked if the sisters would like to see a skit they had prepared for a Confirmation Retreat. The students pulled out chain props and went into action. The skit was done to a song that tells of the struggle against evil and how with Jesus’ help sin is overcome.
“The gathering went longer than scheduled, but it was worth it,” Sister Gloria said.
The afternoon ended with a prayer service with the theme, “I have called you by name; you are mine.”