Sr. Marion

I grew up as a common girl in a small town in the eastern part of Slovakia in Europe. My parents, John and Theresa, brought me up together with my older brother Milan and my sister Eva in modest economic conditions, but in a loving family. We didn't speak much about God at home but prayer was an important part of our evening routine. Going to Church for Sunday Mass was the best event of our weekly schedule. The best dress in my closet and the best shoes were kept just for Sunday Mass, taking them and putting them on for some other occasion was almost like a sacrilege. I remember another Saturday routine: as soon as I could hold a broom in my hands and comprehend what sweeping was, my mom sent me to sweep the walkway in front of our house to make it clean for people who will go by our house to Church for Sunday Mass. Everything in our lives revolved around and evolved from Sunday Mass.

 

As I got older I got involved in sports especially gymnastics, and I spent lots of weekends away at competitions or special training preparations in different cities of Slovakia. Going to Sunday Mass was out of the picture, slowly I got used to this and it didn't bother me much, the sport was my priority. Years went by and as I was on top of my sport career I remember thinking how long could I hold myself on top? The World Champion in gymnastics at that time was a 12 year old Russian girl - my age. I then realized I had run out of time and would never make it to the championship - I was simply too old to go on any further. All of a sudden everything seemed so temporary. I was devastated but determined to terminate my sport career and look for something lasting in my life.

 

Having more time on the weekends I was able to join my brother and sister for hiking trips to our local mountains. I was amazed of the places they took me to and we always ended up praising God for the beauty of the nature He has blessed us with. I very much enjoyed us praying the rosary in the quiet of the deep woods or on top of the mountain peak. God was so close there and He spoke of His love so clearly through the beauty of nature. I felt blessed and... that I should do something more...for God, and for my neighbor.

 

I realized that all this time God was working on something in my life, telling me something, sending signs, sending people my way, He terminated one road but opened another one, leading me somewhere... I knew He would keep on showing me the way, so I might as well stay tuned. I started going to Mass more often, I started praying more, reading the Gospels, going for monthly confessions, and got involved in the youth groups. I wasn't sure yet what I wanted to be but I wanted to be the best for God and live out what Jesus taught His disciples, live my life to the fullest, because I felt loved - loved by God.

 

Meanwhile my brother entered the seminary and he introduced me to some people who allowed God to sanctify their lives. Among many, there was a group of young Religious Sisters. They didn't wear a habit and didn't live in the convent because the communists did not allow them to, but they were living the Gospel every day at home, at work and everywhere they went. Nobody knew they were Religious Sisters, but everybody could feel that there was something special about them. The scent of God was penetrating the world around them and through them. Their happiness and peacefulness was very attractive to me - I liked them very much. However, when I was approached by one of them and asked bluntly if I wanted to join them, I resolutely said "NO! That's not me, you are special people, chosen by God - and that's not my case." But the word of invitation stayed deep in my heart and kept coming back. I couldn't talk about it openly because it was dangerous, and besides, I had my own plans about my life.

 

After some restless time, I finally took courage, went to confession (I made sure I confessed to a priest who didn't know me) and said something about the possibility of becoming a Religious Sister. The priest told me that I should follow the path of Religious Life. I went back and forth on this idea for awhile. But meanwhile something unexpected happened: during the last year of high school the communist regime fell, and all of the young Religious Brothers and Sisters and Priests came up from underground Church. It was an awesome and unforgettable experience. Seeing their zeal and freedom for love of God I couldn't resist God's call any more. A few days before my prom I told my boyfriend I was leaving for the convent. It is quite difficult to describe his reaction, he was not raised in any faith and the concept of Religious Life didn't make sense to him at all. For him it was one crazy idea of burying myself alive. He also said that if he'd ever believed in God it would be thanks to me, but now he couldn't and never will. It was my turn to become scared and angry with God. The night after the prom when everybody went to bed, I was the only one up crying, arguing with God, asking Him to leave me alone and let me live a "normal" life as everybody else does. All of a sudden I felt God's presence like never before and I heard Him say: "Don't worry I can fulfill all the desires of your heart and give you much more." I finally submitted - and a great peace and calm replaced the storm in my soul. Much happened from that night on, but I was sure of one thing - I couldn't wait anymore to enter the convent. The way I felt was similar to what Pope Benedict XVI writes: "Wherever Christ has been present, afterward it cannot be just as if nothing had happened. There, where He has laid His hands, something new has come to be..."

Franciscan Sisters of John the Baptist

1209 E. Lake Avenue

Peoria Heights, IL 61616

309-688-3500

 

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