Sister Isabelle Normand
In the wake of Sister Isabelle’s perpetual vows on August 8, 2016, the journalist Fanny Lévesque wrote an article that appeared in the newspaper Le Soleil entitled “Faire le choix de la vie religieuse... à 39 ans”. Bis Petipas of Radio Canada radio,did a telephone interview with s. Isabelle on the program Bonjour la Côte. Here are the links to the article and to the interview on radio.
Vocational Spring Season at ecdq.org
To you who ask yourself about a possible call to consecrated life...
I would like to address these few words to you, simply and fraternally, in order to encourage you and share with you some reflections and observations that have allowed me to advance on the path of religious life.
From the first moments when I felt that I was perhaps carrying a call to consecrated life, it frightened me and I tried to close my eyes, to convince myself of the contrary. Today I see that it was useless! The Lord is faithful in his call, and while leaving me my freedom (love is not forced upon us), he is insistent, he is tenacious, because he loves me! He has seduced my heart deeply; it is a love story! I saw myself unworthy. Of course, who is worthy? He knows me more than I know myself, my miseries, my weaknesses, my wounds. Who said that one had to be perfect to be consecrated to God? Perfect men and women don't exist! He wants us as we are today!
At the time I had my job as a professional worker; I had my small apartment, my car, my friends, BUT... my life lacked flavor. I felt like I was missing the essential! And my thirst for God was growing, but daily routine didn't give me the time to pray and worship as much as I was hungered to do so.
This call frightened me, because at first I saw the renunciations it represented... But as I went along, at my own pace, I learned that this call was a wonderful gift that the Lord was giving me. My barriers quietly fell one after the other. I saw that the renunciations were nothing compared to what He was giving me in return; that they were simply a loving response to God's gift. Christ gave everything out of love for me, he gave his life. I want to respond to this Love with love, offer gift for Gift. And what a deep joy springs up in me! A vocation is a path to happiness!
A big question I asked myself for a long time was this one: how will I recognize the community where the Lord is calling me? I asked this question to a sister present in my parish on her 50th anniversary of profession and she answered: "When it is there, you will know it! " Today, I suggest that you begin by getting to know yourself, your spirituality, how the Lord has formed you in your past. Look at the spiritual experiences you have had. In this way, you will clarify "Who you are". I prayed a lot to be able to recognize my community when it would be the right one. I visited and got to know several communities to discern well. And then, one day, during a discernment retreat, the priest who accompanied me asked me if I knew the Dominican Missionary Adorers? After a short time of getting to know them, I found myself in this Eucharistic spirituality, in this life that is both contemplative and active; a life of adoration and offering; Dominican life, fraternal, simple and joyful; Missionary life centered on the proclamation of the Love of Jesus in the Eucharist. Looking at the community, it was as if I was looking at myself in a mirror... thus I knew it was called there!
It is very precious to be accompanied on the path of discernment. I missed this help at the beginning and I saw how essential it is! A good accompaniment will help you to see more clearly, confirm you in certain ways or make you see further ahead for others ways. Listen to the Spirit! If you are on the right path, deep joy and peace will be there in your heart. Sometimes there will be small storms on the surface, questioning, discouragement; ideas like: "I'm not made for this," "I don't have this quality or this skill," "it's too demanding," etc., may come, but peace remains deep in your heart. Trust in God! He knows what he is doing, he is God, the very Other! It is he who gives us the strength and courage to respond, to follow him and to persevere.
If you feel that the Lord is calling you, don't be afraid! It is for your greatest happiness! He is still calling today. You must be patient on the path of discernment, be well accompanied, and you will be able to respond to Love by giving yourself up to it! I keep you in my prayer so that you may discover God's will for you and that he may give you the strength to respond to your call, that of the vocation you carry, whatever it may be. You will experience his joy!
Sr. Isabelle Normand, o.p.