“Sia, we need to start working on your habits,” the Superior said with a big smile on her face.
“Really?!” I replied without hesitation.
The moment I heard those words, I immediately thought to myself, ‘WOW’ I am going to change my name. I mean – everything!
In that moment, I felt like I had won a million dollars! To get my habits done required traveling to and from Chicago where our seamstress resided. I was thrilled and so was the community. My habits became the subject of my everyday conversation.
Questions flooded through my head. How am I going to look? What would my name be? Who will be my patron saint – and when is my Name day? Will I look younger or older? Who will be my novice mistress? The list of questions went on.
I was counting down months, weeks, days, hours, seconds and then boom, I was walking down the aisle in a long black dress with a white veil and shoes that I never thought I would wear. (I called them ‘old lady’ shoes). My heart was beating so fast that even Chicago traffic could not compare.
When I arrived in front of the Superior, her smile was so big, which made me suspicious about my new name. I was anxious and my thoughts focused on only one thing: my new name. What if I don’t like the name? How will I react as to pretend that I like it? Oh how I felt nauseated!
Then, there was silence as my Superior looked at me and then spoke the following words so beautifully from her heart: “Ailua Telesia Key, from now on…” she paused as if she was testing my patience. My heart was screaming like a mad woman within me. ‘Come on, Sister please tell me’ the Superior and Sisters grew even more silent.
I did not hear any movements in the chapel. Jesus was silent too. Even the birds in the sky were quiet. It felt like the world around me was gone and I was the only one who survived. Even more, I felt like I was standing at the last judgment and I was eagerly waiting the Judge to arrive.
Believe me, I was not calm. Perhaps, I was exteriorly but interiorly I was giving myself ten thousand reasons why I wanted to know my new name, right now!
The superior smiled again. Oh! Please tell me now, I thought. I wanted to say, ‘just spit it out like Jonah who was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights.’ This was how I entertained myself — I tried so hard not to ruin my special day.
Finally, the Superior tried it again for the second time. This time she succeeded. She repeated what she said before, “Ailua Telesia Key, from now on you will be called, Sister Clare, your Name day was two days ago. And I was praying for you.”
Wow! What a relief! When I heard my new name “Sister Clare” I leaped for joy within like St. John at the visitation.
I had to ask her for the second time to make sure I was not dreaming. Out of charity, she repeated it to me and spelled it out “C-L-A-R-E”.
‘This is it!’, I thought to myself. I was no longer Sia, but Sister Clare. This is and will be my new identity.
The questions started to pour in again: What would it make of me? Did anything good come out of Ailua Telesia Key? My patron saint is a holy woman of God, what if I can’t imitate her?
Oh boy! I would have to try harder as I journey down the Novitiate lane.
The moment I was given the new identity, I felt different. My whole being wasn’t the old me. It was a moment of awe! The supernatural grace flowed freely like the burning bush where Moses encountered God for the first time.
At that moment I was able to pray with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who lives but Christ is living in me.”
Now, one month later, I am still in awe with God’s mercy and unconditional love for me. He stayed true to His promises and never failed to show me His unfathomable love.
As a novice, I have to surrender and expect the unexpected — which is plenty. I learned that from the unexpected God is reminding me of my new identity, Sr. Clare.
I no longer belong to my old self, I belong to God. He is now in charge of my life.
What a joy to know that I am riding this ride with Him at the wheel as the driver, and I as a passenger.
With Him all things are possible. In Him is all I delight.