Sister Mariana, Sister Roziane, and Sister Isabela Guimaraes are three blood sisters who embraced their call to religious life in the same congregation: the Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Today Sr. Mariana, 50, and Sr. Isabela, 35, live in the same house of the congregation, located in Maricá in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state. Mariana is a counselor and part of the institute’s governance, and Isabela takes care of the elderly nuns. Sister Roziane, 37, lives in Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state.
In a statement to ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese language sister news agency, the nuns related that they were born in Virginia in Minas Gerais to a Catholic family of 13 children, two of whom died in infancy.
The sisters said that their parents were key to their religious vocation, since they taught them by example to live their faith in Christ. However, they said that although they come from the same family and follow the same charism, each lives her vocation in her own way, according to her own way of being.
“Our mother taught us each to live in her own way. So, even though we are sisters and we are in the same congregation, no one interferes in each other’s lives,” Sr. Mariana explained
She was the first to follow her vocation, since she entered the convent when she was 12 years old. “Already at that age I felt this call to be closer to God,” she said. She recounted that thanks to the guidance of a priest from her parish, she met the Sisters of Good Counsel, and that a month after Roziane’s birth, she joined the institute.
Next was Sr. Roziane, who entered the convent in 2002. She said she has “a slight recollection” that at age three she expressed a desire to go to the convent, even though “she had not seen Sister Mariana yet,” who only returned home three years later.
Sr. Roziane said that after a while, Sr. Mariana began to visit her family once a year and she used to ask her if she wanted to go to the convent, “because she knew of this desire.” She replied that she wanted to wait until she finished her studies at school; however, she said that in her second year of high school she began to consider her vocation more.
“I was already dating and my boyfriend was a good guy, but he didn’t awaken that love in me. That’s when I realized what my calling was. When Sister Mariana was at home, in January, I went to the convent with her,” she recalled.
The last was Sr. Isabela, who entered the convent in 2013. She recounted that at first she didn’t think about being a nun, until she decided to go for a walk at the convent in 2005. She then continued to visit the convent for eight more years. However, she didn’t want to join the convent just because her two sisters were there.
“But when I came to Sister Mariana’s graduation, when it was time to leave, I passed by the chapel and felt something very strong, different. That’s when I said I wanted to stay too,” she recalled.
Sr. Mariana told ACI Digital that her mother also wanted to be a nun when she was young, but couldn’t, “because at that time it was more difficult.”
She recalled that recently her mother told her that at that time she told a person about her impossible desire to be a nun, who prayed for her and encouraged her to “pray for her children.” “She prayed and today she has not just one, but three daughters in the convent,” added Sr. Roziane.
For the nuns, the role of the parents is key in the formation of the vocation of the children. “If I can give advice to parents, it is, first of all, that they seek to live as Christians, as good Christians, because it is not so much talking, but living evangelizes much more. We saw our parents praying, attending church. So, the example carries more weight than talking,” said Sr. Mariana.
For Sr. Roziane, the decision to enter the same convent was somewhat influenced by “having a sister in the congregation” who helped them “know how things worked,” but over time “we realized that, in fact, it was a call from God to that charism, because we found fulfillment within it. If it weren’t for that, maybe we would have looked for other institutes,” Sr. Roziane said.
As confirmed by Sr. Isabela, Sr. Roziane pointed out that at the beginning they questioned whether their entry into the congregation was just the desire to be like their older sister. “But with time in religious life, we see that the intentions are being purified, because the trials of their state in life come, the trials of their mission come.”
There are other cases of blood sisters belonging to the Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel. According to Sr. Roziane, this “never brought on any kind of problem, because you hardly ever go to work with your sister.” Sr. Mariana added that the founder of the congregation, Mother María Bernadete, who died in 2019, “welcomed us and knew how to guide us very well so that each one could live out her vocation.”
Source: Catholic News Agency