Sr Natalie Houlihan IBVM
Loreto Sisters-Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Our Charism: "The care and proclamation of the faith through the work of education, the promotion of justice, and service of God's people by ‘any means congruous to the times'. (Const. 2: 1.9)" ‘to refer all to God and follow the way of justice and sincerity ain lightness of heart" (Cons 2: 1.11)
In 2000, Natalie Houlihan started as a candidate with the Loreto sisters. She will take her final vows in 2012. This long journey has led Natalie through personal formation, teaching and most recently to educational and pastoral work in a Teachers College in Timor Leste.
I was attracted to Loreto by Mary Ward's words "to be such as you appear and appear such as you are." In her words I felt a call to explore the way of life that she too lived.. something of her story and her search for truth resonated with my own.
Being a religious sister places me in the privileged position of being able to meet many people from many different walks of life. In my interactions I believe I am listening and engaging in a very personal manner with the story of another. Such moments are graced experiences and in turn teach me much about myself and who I am called to be. ..Part of our way as Loreto sisters is that of mobility and going where the need is greatest. This requires a great trust in the Spirit at work in my life, which is constantly evolving.
One the big challenges I face is how to manage my time in order to be faithful to all aspects of my day to day living- to find a balance between the spiritual/prayer and the ministerial; the community way of living, and also the inclusion of family and friends. Sometimes it feels we can give too much of ourselves, and easily forget to nourish and receive in ways that re-energise ourselves. It's always hard to let go from one ministry and the people I have been so close to, and move on, trusting in God that they will be OK.
If anyone was discerning a vocation today I would certainly encourage that person to simply be herself, to walk gently and with patience the path ahead. I am a great believer in things happening in God's time which ultimately is the right time.. which is usually when one feels a deep inner peace within.