Living in a country where the Roman Catholic religion comprises a very small percentage is not a great factor in entering religious life!
I was raised in a country where Buddhism is the main religion. My father is a Buddhist while my mother and the people in our village are Catholics. However, in the family, the agreement is to allow children to decide what religion to follow and live out.
In my elementary years, I studied the Catechism with other children every night, from Monday to Friday and this helped me make a decision. When I was 11 years old, I was baptized a Catholic. By then, I felt something different; I wanted to dedicate myself to God but I did not know how since I had not met Sisters or nuns nor did I know any religious congregation.
During my high school days, God continued to work in my life; I had the opportunity to meet many Sisters from different religious congregations and I again felt the stirrings of dedicating my life to God. Then one day, I attended a “Life Direction Session” conducted by the Daughters of Charity. This Session opened my eyes to their way of life and mission and I was deeply impressed … I was really attracted to them.
After my senior year in high school, I was invited to live in and observe a DC community for one month. During that period, I got to know the Sisters and I observed how they related with one another. I was deeply touched by their way of life: prayer, community and apostolate. Feeling the call and the desire to live this kind of life, I decided to apply for Pre-Postulancy. By God’s grace, I was supported by my family who encouraged me to continue the discernment of my vocation.
As a Pre-Postulant, I learned, little by little, the meaning of what I was looking for because I really felt at home in the community. After one year, I was recommended to the Postulancy.
As a Postulant for two years. I engaged in a process of human formation in which I was able to know myself better. I also got to know the Daughters of Charity in a deeper way: their charism, their way of life, their mission of service on behalf of poor persons. Then, I decided to apply for the Seminary where I was helped to clarify and purify my desire to follow Jesus. I was accompanied as I deepened my relationship with God and became closer to Him. After the Seminary, I was sent to my first mission.
After seven years, I made my Vows for the first time. Now I am 14 years in vocation and I was sent to work in Formation Ministry.
Being in a Buddhist country and entering religious life is an extraordinary decision for a woman to make. But then in my village, I was the one who really pursued the call to follow God and become a Sister.
Sr. Bernadette Khanthong “Phai” KAENGKHIAW,
Province of St. Louise de Marillac- Asia (Thailand Mission)