Sister Theresa Lan Nguyen
I was born in what was then South Vietnam. When I was a child, I had many opportunities to practice and grow up with a Christian spirit. At that time, I didn’t have a deep knowledge of God’s love, but He led and helped me to slowly become aware of His love.
My mother always supported and encouraged me to be a Sister. There were many convents around the place where I lived. Therefore, I could easily imagine what it was like to be a Sister, and I wanted to be one when I was seventeen years old.
However, at that time I needed to take care of my family, and the government didn’t let everyone enter the convent. I could not do otherwise than to be involved in the practices of my parish, such as studying and teaching catechism.
Then, as time drifted away, my family came to the United States in 1990. I couldn’t speak English, and my faith practices became insecure. At that time, I was very fearful. My vocation seemed hopeless. Every day I went to school and to work. On weekends, I often went to visit my relatives, go shopping, or go somewhere else. On vacations, I traveled to other states and returned to Vietnam twice.
However, that was not enough to fill up my empty soul, and I felt lonely. Sometimes, I felt a hand wave inviting me to step forward. At that time, my soul was dispirited and desolate. However, I didn’t forget to beseech God, “O Lord, You know what I need.” Religious life did not happen at that moment, because I needed time to think and pray. I passed through many days in prayer and meditation. I also attended vocation retreats, and finally, God’s grace converted my soul.
Some impulse made me choose a three-day retreat at convent of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. It was a decision made by accident, but helpful, in that it guided me to come to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. I entered the convent in February 2000, and I have been a Perpetual Profess Sister for seven years.
At first, I was afraid about the different language, culture, and customs. Would I have the patience and courage to handle that? God’s love is always sufficient for everyone. The Sisters in the convent were very happy, lovely, and peaceful. I can vouch that they live their charism:
We, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, living as women of prayer in simplicity and sisterly love, are called to be compassionate, joyful servants of the Lord.
Thanks to living together and the warm welcome of the Sisters, I have overcome most of my fear. Instead my soul is peaceful and full of love.
A special grace in religious life, which I love, is to live in the same house with God, to do God’s will, to grow perfect in His love by following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the good news of God’s love and salvation to the people. To answer one part of God’s love toward me, I can copy the words of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus: “Love God and help everyone else to love God too that is my only aspiration.”
My friends, I happily ask you to recognize that Jesus’ love is present within you.