Embracing Her Reality

By Marie Van Heusen

In early November, I was pleased to meet Sister Marla Marie. I had heard much about her from my daughter Tresa and through the Maronite Voice. Sister was visiting with us in order to meet Tresa’s family and learn more about her. This February, Tresa will be joining sister in the new religious community of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. I was a bit concerned because I wanted to make a good impression. I discovered that Sister’s greatest interest lay in answering any of my questions or concerns for my daughter.
At that time, she asked me to write about my thoughts and reactions to Tresa’s decision. I must say that I did not think much about “my” feelings, until Sister asked. I should add that Sr. Marla Marie was especially interested because I have two children entering the religious life. My youngest son, Ian, entered seminary this fall at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. I often hear from friends and family comments about how hard it must be to give two children to God. I have to admit I never imagined it was my choice.
I tried to teach my children that, if we open ourselves, God will reveal to us our vocation (marriage, religious, teacher, doctor etc.). We can ignore Him or we can pray listen (discern) and then find our own unique calling in life. I believe that all three of my children have done that. It is not my place, as a mother, to impose my hopes for them, but instead to encourage and support them as they discover God’s plan.

So as I sit and write I begin to remember them as they grew up. I have always sensed in Ian, since infancy, a calling to religious life. There were signs I believed pointed toward that future for him. Now Tresa was a different story. She was strong-minded, determined and stubborn at a very young age. As she grew she used those traits to become a hardworking, resilient, devoted and unfailingly honest (to a fault) young woman.
I often wondered and worried if Tresa would meet a nice young man who could understand and appreciate her. Would she be blessed, as I have been, to fall in love and marry a good man who would, through their love, draw her closer to God? Also, of course, as a mother, I dreamed of a big beautiful wedding and of supporting her through motherhood, as the loving Nana.
And yet on the day Tresa told me she was being called to be a nun, the first thought to enter my head was not of loss. As I listened to her explain about the months of praying and discerning, and how she had come to realize God was calling her to serve Him and His Church, I was overwhelmed with a great joy for her! I can now stop wondering and worrying.
My daughter has found the One Man who will always love, support and understand her. Yes I give up “my” dreams of that beautiful wedding and Tresa blessed with children. I gladly let go of my dreams in order to embrace her reality, loving and serving in the greater family of all, The Catholic Church.

(Photos:  Top Left:  Tresa and Marie; Left: Fr. Sam, Tresa, Marie, Ian)