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At least nine local women are joining religious orders this year

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Dedication to the Eucharist, Mary and evangelization are just a few of the reasons why women join a religious order.

The diocesan Office of Vocations knows of at least nine women in the diocese entering religious orders this year. 

Each of the women participated in events sponsored by the vocations office, including FIAT Days Camp or women discernment groups. 

Anne-Marie Minnis, event coordinator for the diocesan vocations office, said the large number of women entering is a blessing. “It is a tribute to the families and prayer warriors of the diocese, and proof that God continues to reach out to people and call them,” she said. 

Some of those prayer warriors are part of the St. Therese Vocation Society, whose members receive a calendar listing the men and women in formation for the priesthood and religious life. 

Four women from the diocese are entering the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará — Anilia Rivera, Juliette Guilloux, Rachel Ward and Juliana Weber. Known as Servidoras, they are a missionary order, according to Rivera, a parishioner of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield. 

“Through developing my gifts and talents and prayer and doing what God wants, I was able to realize I was being called,” she said. “For me, the more I went to adoration and the more I gave of myself to bring joy by performing music and participating in a Shakespeare troupe, the thoughts in my brain clicked better in realizing what I am currently called to do with my life.” 

For Guilloux, a parishioner of St. William of York Church in Stafford, joining the Servidoras felt like family. “I became more and more sure that God was calling me to join this order because living among them during visits, retreats and trips felt like living with a family that was designed by God just for me,” she said. 

Guilloux said she always felt uncomfortable with the call to evangelize. “Now, as I look forward to life as a Servidora, the task seems natural and less daunting. That is one way that I can be sure that God is calling me to this particular order,” she said. “In his goodness, he has prepared a place for me on this earth where I can spread the Gospel and bring souls to Christ, but also where I can thrive, be happy, and become the person he wants me to be.”

Diana Aquino, a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, is a postulant with the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph in Alexandria. She started discerning religious life when she was 14. Now 20, Aquino is studying early childhood development at Northern Virginia Community College. 

"I desired to be a mom, always thinking I would get married,” she said. “I went through a dark patch until I was 12 years old when God first touched my heart. At 13, I felt a desire to love God in a deeper way and didn’t even know religious life existed.” 

Amanda Poff chose the Daughters of Holy Mary of the Heart of Jesus in Steubenville, Ohio, because of her devotion to Mary and the Eucharist. Poff’s grandmother is Mexican and her mother homeschooled her in English and Spanish. Poff said that Spanish background helped her discern because the Daughters of Holy Mary are a Spanish order.

Poff, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, learned of the order at FIAT. Daughters of Holy Mary of the Heart of Jesus Sister Visitación de Maria said her order has been participating in FIAT since 2014. "It is a great blessing to be part of that and see all the vocations," she said.

Rosie Hall, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, joined the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (DSMME) in Ann Arbor, Mich., a teaching community. “Each of the sisters is radically different, and they are encouraged to be so. They are encouraged to be themselves, but the best version of themselves,” she said. “That is what ultimately called me to them. The idea that I could live for Christ, in Christ and through Christ, knowing that what I will lose in the formation is not who I am, but rather the formation will help me grow into who God designed me to be.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018