Category Archives: Positive Stories

God called and I answered

I’m Sister Meinar, SSpS, a member of the Missionary Congregation, Servants of the Holy Spirit. I come from Indonesia and I’ve been living in Birmingham, England, since 2018. At the moment, I live in a community with other sisters, Sr Yudith from Indonesia, Sr Mary from England and Sr Simone from Germany.

How do I live my life as a Christian?

The Church teaches us that there are three vocations: the single life, married life, and the religious life or priesthood. I chose to live as a religious sister.

Our Founder St Arnold Janssen gifted us with a powerful motto: “May the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.

In 1875, he founded the Society of the Divine Word to focus on missionary work. The Divine Word Missionaries preach the Gospel and share the Word of God by living, working, teaching and sharing with others in many areas of the world.

Then he founded two congregations for women. Missionary Sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS for short). This is the group that I belong to. We are active missionaries. The SSpS of Perpetual adoration are contemplatives. These two congregations are working internationally in more than 50 countries across the world.

Before joining the congregation as a sister, I would say that I didn’t know much about the world. I lived in a small village in Kalimantan, Indonesia. I was brought up in a sheltered environment. At that time, I was only thinking about myself, my family and my neighbourhood. I had never thought that in some parts of the world, war was going on and people were being oppressed. I didn’t even know that human trafficking and harassment were thriving. Then, after joining the congregation, I felt like my eyes were opened to a whole new world, its beauty, and its struggles.

How did it happen? How did I recognise my vocation? Was it because I have a great personality? Or was it because I was flawless or perfect?

No, the answer is. It happened because God called, and I answered.

As I look back to my family roots, I feel so lucky. I was brought up in a Catholic family who actively participated in Church activities every week. I had strong bonds with my family and a strong sense of community surrounded me. In our village, we didn’t have Holy Mass every day or not even every week. Instead, we had liturgy of the Word together every Sunday. Three or four times a year we were just thrilled to get a visit from the priest or religious sister.

This situation created a feeling of longing for more. The once-in-a-blue-moon visit built up my enthusiasm to meet and interact with the priests and religious sisters every time I had a chance.

The idea of being a religious sister kept coming and going from my childhood through to adolescence. When the priest or sister paid us a visit, they had special activities with the children teaching them to pray and singing gospel songs. And then, at the end of a session, they would ask whether any of us was interested in being a sister or a priest. I put my hand up every time, without knowing what it was all about. However, at one retreat, when I was 17 years old, the thought of being a religious sister came back to me even stronger, but I didn’t know what to do. Once again, I tried to ignore it and kept myself busy preparing for university just like my other classmates did.

One thing I knew for sure at that time was that I wasn’t keen on studying in the university, but I didn’t know what else to do. I enrolled and waited to start university.

Then, a golden opportunity appeared. I met a missionary sister who was on holiday with her family in the village. I thought at that time, entering the convent would be a better alternative to going to university. I thought to myself: If I don’t make it in the convent, it doesn’t matter; at least I would have given it a try.

I then told my parents about my intention. They were surprised because I had never talked about this to them. I was lucky to have supportive parents and family. They kept saying: you are very welcome anytime you feel you want to come back.

I started my formation when I was 18 years old and thank God that I am still able to continue my journey.

As time goes by, I have learned many things and have grown mature in thinking, making decisions and taking action. My vocation is not about avoiding the university but about my relationship with God, with my fellow SSpS sisters globally and with the community where I live and serve. I think God has a sense of humour, because now I am studying at the university. So, I didn’t avoid it after all.

I now have the privilage of attending Holy Mass every day and having time for personal prayer and reflection. On top of that, by joining the Holy Spirit sisters, I have experienced great joy. I have served many more people than I could ever imagine, both in prayer and in action. In Indonesia, after I entered the convent, I could reach out to the lonely, by visiting and bringing Holy Communion to the elderly and the sick. I visited prisoners and joined them for Holy Mass and socialising. I visited a shelter for women victims of violence to be with them and comfort them.

Now I have to put those ministries on hold to pursue my university studies.

Everybody has their own vocation, I am living my vocation as a missionary sister and it’s a privilege to be God’s representative to bring hope and a smile to the people I meet and serve in my daily life.

Would you like to join me?

Blessed Carlo Acutis

The “Cyber Apostle of the Eucharist” by Fr. Sean Maguire from Totus Tuus

We often hear people bemoaning that young people do not engage with their Catholic faith. However, the beatification of an Italian teenager in October 2020 is a reminder to us that the Catholic faith ought to be a source of joy in the lives of our youth today. There is a lot written about the life of the first millennial to be beatified, but in this article, I will shine a spotlight on the extraordinary Eucharistic devotion of this ordinary teenager.

When Carlos received his First Holy Communion at the age of seven, he fell in love with the Eucharist and never wanted to miss Mass ever again. Carlos went to Confession weekly and prayed the Rosary daily, which he said was “the shortest ladder to climb to Heaven.” Carlos referred to the Eucharist as “his highway to heaven.” His mother had only been to Mass three times in her life but she was captivated by her son’s devotion to the Eucharist and this led to her conversion.

Carlos regularly prayed before the Blessed Sacrament for an hour before or after Mass. He certainly believed that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and he allowed Jesus to transform his youthful heart. He used to say “if we get in front of the sun, we get suntans, but when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist we become saints.” Through regular exposure to the rays of grace that come from the Eucharist, Carlos was able to reach his full human potential and become the person that God created him to be. Carlos said that “the more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus.” Each time Carlos received the Body of Christ, he became what he received and his life reflected in a greater way the life of Christ.

The summer after his 14th birthday, Carlos created a website cataloging an array of Eucharistic miracles that occurred throughout the world in history. Most Eucharistic miracles involve incidences in which the Eucharist Host has turned into human flesh and blood. Many have been scientifically examined and approved by the Church. Jesus, through these miracles, shows us in a tangible way that he is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Nicola Gori, the postulator of Carlo Acutis’ cause for sainthood said that Carlo was concerned by people growing distant to the Church and the sacraments and he wanted to bring them back. His website “is a call to shake consciences” and many people throughout the world have had their faith strengthened by Carlos’ work.

Carlo was so convinced and overcome by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that he couldn’t understand why stadiums were full of people and churches were empty. He would often say, “They have to see, they have to understand.” Carlos understood that “we have a foretaste of Heaven” on earth when we receive the Eucharist. In a diary given to him, he wrote, “sadness is looking at oneself, happiness is looking at God.” Carlos’ life was certainly pointed towards God and he derived so much joy from being in the presence of his Eucharistic Lord.

Blessed Acutis’ life reminds us that everyone is called to sainthood. For Carlos, to become a saint is simple: “The only thing we have to ask God for, in prayer, is the desire to be holy.”

And he was able to reach the beautiful goal of holiness above all by participating in the Mass and the Eucharistic Adoration.

Carlo died from a brain tumor in 2006 at the age of fifteen. As he was dying of leukemia, he said, “I am happy to die, because I lived my life without wasting even a minute of it on anything un-pleasing to God.” Certainly his Eucharistic centered life enabled him to live a spotless life pleasing to God. As he was dying, Carlos offered all his suffering for the Church and for the Pope. Blessed Carlos Acutis was beatified in Assisi on the 10th of October 2020, at which Cardinal Agostino Vallini said that the “love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God” and that “he had his gaze turned to Jesus.”

Blessed Carlo pray for us.