I look back on my initial formation with a sense of awe and gratitude. In high school, I knew that I wanted to become a religious. But there were quite a few obstacles in front of me. The process began by God calling and me putting my hand up saying, “Hold on Lord, I have to take care of one more thing.” God would sigh and I would always promise to get back to Him as soon as possible.
Once the issues of my life were taken care of, especially the care of my mother, God knocked on my door again and reminded me that I had promised to get back to Him. I was 27 at that time. God repeated this invitation to me with love and a ton of patience. Giving my yes I began my formation with the Sisters of the Divine Savior in August of 1995.
I had no idea if my entering the formation program of the Sisters was going to work. I had been living most of my life in Costa Rica. After my mother’s death, I had come up to visit family in the U.S. and ended up staying and entering the Community. I was making transitions of culture, language, and customs. But it appeared God was right there, supporting and guiding me. I was at peace no matter what the challenges were. The sisters who were my formators were kind, gentle, patient, understanding, and good at dialogue. I could not have had a better team. It all seemed to fit together and fall into place.
As I look back at all I have done in religious life as a relatively young Salvatorian Sister, sometimes it is hard for me to believe it. If my formation director would have told me in my initial years, “This is what God will ask of you once you are out of initial formation,” I might have packed up and taken another route in life. But all has been grace; all has been deep blessings I would not have experienced otherwise. God has continued to call me and trust me with many delicate and wonderful tasks.
Even though I completed my initial formation in 2003, I continue in ongoing formation to take one step at a time. The community aspect of religious life has been a crucial part. As I say my “yes” to various needs, I know my Sisters are there to pray for me, support me, and be there when I need them. They will send emails, cards, a phone call, or a deep sit-down discussion in community about my next venture.
I am now on the precipice of another invitation from God and my Salvatorian community: helping with a new collaborative mission in Guatemala. I have joined our Sisters in Colombia for training, workshops, and retreats in preparation for our work in rural Guatemala. Our Sisters once more have rallied around me. They shared words of wisdom, support, cheered me on, shared materials with me—from the youngest to the oldest members, from the most active Sisters to the frailest. My formation and growth continue. Even though it seems as if I am making another leap into the unknown, my formation years remind me again and again that it will all work out. Trust, pray, grow in peace and God will do the rest.
Exactly when did I become the religious I am today? Exactly when did I develop the skill to give this “yes” one more time and trust the rest to God? I don’t have a specific answer for that. I know for sure, it did not happen over night. If I had been asked about Guatemala five years earlier, I might have said, “No, hold on Lord, I have to take care of one more thing.” In my journey in religious life, there is a moment and a time for everything. It becomes God’s time, the right time for the Community to ask; it becomes the right time for me to say “yes.”
I realize now that there are religious life learning and formation moments that have to happen before God will extend a particular invitation. Learning and growing are not bad, painful things in religious life; they are a necessity, especially if there is a crucial call just around the corner. To continuously prepare, to listen, to pay attention to detail, to grow in prayer, to deepen the spiritual life, to bend, to stretch to give a healthy “no” or a healthy “yes” becomes the everyday exercise in religious life. All of these experiences are part of our ongoing formation in religious life.
Sr. Liza Segleau, SDS