Sr John Mary says final ‘yes’ to calling
For Sr John Mary, making her final vows was followed by feeling a deep love for working in Christ’s Kingdom, and for His children.
“It’s almost this wanting to give myself totally without cost. This desire to just imitate Him on the cross, where he just totally gave himself for man, for His Kingdom, so that everyone can enjoy that life with God.”
Sr John Mary Alimangohan SI, 26, made her final profession as a Sister of the Immaculata on the vigil of the Assumption, August 14 at St Mary of the Cross Church in Ranelagh.
For Sr John Mary, Baptist (John for St John Vianney, with the title Baptist for St John the Baptist), the desire to live totally for Christ began when she was just five years old, living in Philippines. Each night, her mother would read her, and her six siblings, stories of the saints and Biblical heroes. She remembers being struck by the story of St Thérèse of Lisieux.
“When I heard her story, how she had this intimacy with Christ I was inspired,” she said.
“I said, ‘I want to be a nun like her.’ And then it just never left me,” she said.
Sr John Mary still had to struggle with her vocation. Moving to Australia at age 11, she describes a time, between the ages of 15-19, where she felt pulled between the “world” and her desires for the religious life.
“I read a lot of romance books … I had idealised marriage so then I started thinking of marriage in that way,” she said.
An Ignatian retreat was an important milestone in her discernment journey, as was realising that she felt that marriage would be dividing her heart between a husband and Christ.
“I felt like there could only be one man in my life … Christ has to be total for me. And basically I had to have an undivided heart for Christ,” she said.
After much praying, and an almost miraculous turn of events in which her university degree was cancelled, Sr John Mary decided to seriously try the religious life. She entered the Sisters of the Immaculata in 2013 at the age of 19.
Formed in 2008 with the desire for spiritual renewal and faith formation in parishes through Eucharistic adoration and discipling of young people, the Sisters of the Immaculata are based in Franklin.
Now finally professed, Sr John Mary says religious life is “such a privileged gift”.
“It’s fulfilling because it’s always what I’ve desired; that intimacy with Christ, being really close to him.”
To young people thinking about stepping out to discern a religious vocation, her advice is: “You lose nothing.”
“You gain everything,” she said. “It was hard but I chose to give up family, marriage, possessions … life in the world for something greater … it’s just like someone buying a treasure.”