We attended the MYA Workshop Nov. 2-4th held in Washington DC where 170 young adults from across the U.S. present. The main presenter speaking on Maronite history and spirituality, in particular the Maronite Liturgy was Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, Rector of the Maronite Seminary. At the workshop we assisted by leading Maronite morning and evening prayer. Sr. Therese Maria also shared her journey of faith to the group and below is a copy of her life testimony.
The MYA also had the opportunity in their program to go to confession, receive the mysteries of the Eucharist celebrated by His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour and other priests from our eparchies. The highlight of the program was the visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. On Sunday at 11:00AM the MYA group attended Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, and a farewell brunch.
Discovering the Love of My Life!
by– Sister Therese Maria Touma, MSCL
It is a great joy to share with you my journey of faith and how I came to develop a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, the love of my life! I would like to begin by sharing a little about my family history. I was born in 1984 and raised in Sydney, Australia. My dad was born in North Lebanon and my mother was born in Sydney. I have two siblings younger than I, a sister and brother. Growing up, we went every Sunday to the Maronite Church. We were blessed to be raised in our Maronite faith and traditions. My mother taught us by example to pray and value our faith by the way we lived out our Christian values.
In high school, I started to ask questions, seeking answers to what the point of my existence was? We get up, eat, go to school, work, eat, sleep, and the cycle goes on? Deep down I was yearning to understand my purpose in life, and to find a deeper fulfillment in who I was. So I started to attend weekly bible discussion at our parish hoping to find some answers. At home, I began reading the Gospels to discover more about the attractive person of Jesus and his teachings. I found Christ’s Words to be nourishing and also challenging at the same time, as I discovered I had to change (let go of my pride and selfishness) to be more like Jesus who in contrast is humble, compassionate, and forgiving. I also started to put my faith into action and get more involved in serving at our parish, as a lector, in the choir, and in various spiritual and social activities.
In college my thirst to learn more about the Catholic faith grew so in my free time I read the lives of many interesting saints, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One saint that very much captivated me was St. Therese the Little Flower. Her book the “Story of the Soul” totally inspired me and I believe helped form my spirituality of simplicity, trust and child-like confidence in God’s infinite love and mercy. It is worth reading. I highly recommend it!
In my younger youth, I enjoyed life, family, friends and frozen yogurt! As a Sister, my enjoyment in life has expanded in community with the humorous Mother Marla Marie. Some of my hobbies were playing basketball, swimming, skiing, calligraphy, and going out dancing with friends.
At the age of 20, a significant event that led me to realize my desire to be “all for Jesus” was the 2005 ADORE Eucharistic Conference I attended in Sydney. I recall coming home from the conference crying tears of joy…as I had experienced more intimately God’s awesome love for me, his beloved daughter. I also felt a deeper sorrow for my attachments to sin. I desired to be healed and freed to love Jesus even more. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God for his unconditional love and goodness in my life. My mum thought something was wrong with me. She could not fully understand how those beautiful days of Eucharistic Adoration, praise and worship, going to the Mysteries/Sacraments of the Eucharist and penance had moved me, filled my heart with an inexpressible peace and joy. This was also the first time I told her of my desire of becoming a Religious Sister and loving Jesus totally by giving him back the gift of my life. At this point, my mum was not happy with this desire of mine as she wanted me to pursue my accounting career, get married and provide the many grand children.
After completing my Business degree in 2005, I was offered an excellent position in commercial accounting. Six months into my job I handed in my resignation as I was dissatisfied in such a competitive , empty and materialistic career. I decided to go and discern my vocation in Lebanon with the missionary sisters of St. Therese. I stayed and lived with them, observing and joining in their way of life for 5 months. My experience with the Sisters gave me a greater love and appreciation for the Maronite Liturgy/Spirituality and teaching the faith. However, I did not see that this was where God was calling me to serve him, so I returned back to Australia in 2006 with an openness to still serving God as a Religious Sister.
In Sydney, I continued to discern my vocation through prayer, ongoing faith formation and spiritual direction. I studied part-time a diploma in Education while working at the Religious Education Office. In 2008, a friend wrote to me about the new community of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light and encouraged me to visit their website. I did visit the website and found myself drawn to the charism as I saw it to be a much needed and vital mission in our universal Church. The mission of the Maronite Servants is a beautiful call to service as spiritual mothers working alongside our priests. As consecrated women, we are to pray for, sacrifice, and lead our people to the Christ the Light, the true joy and treasure of our lives!
God’s ways and timing are amazing. I contacted Mother Marla Marie and asked if I could do a Come and see visit. In that same year, I visited Mother Marla Marie in Boston for 6 weeks. After my enjoyable and fruitful visit, I applied to join the community and entered as a postulant in 2010. Now I am a novice preparing to take my first vows of obedience, chastity and poverty. God willing, December 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception I will make my first profession of vows at St. Anthony of the Desert Church in Fall River, M.A. I am very excited to be taking this step as I publically give my life to Jesus in service to his people, and to share the gifts of His love and life in community. We are praying that many young women will join us in this beautiful life and mission. Maybe some young ladies reading this article or that you know in your parish who might be open to serving God as a Maronite Servant? Please spread the word about us.
If you would like for more information about our community please visit our website www.maroniteservants.org and blog RadiateHisLight.blogspot.com and watch our video. I promise you my prayers and I ask for yours. I invite you in this Year of Faith to deepen your love for Jesus by: making prayer a priority in your day, praying the Rosary, reading the Scriptures, spending quiet time with Jesus, and growing in the understanding of your Catholic faith by buying the Youth Catechism or YouCat and studying it!
I personally am joyful because Jesus, who is truth, goodness and beauty, is the center and love of my life! I challenge you to make him the center of your life. You won’t regret it! He is our way to eternal bliss, Heaven! God bless you.