My Salesian Story
I am Gill, I am 37, a Chelsea supporter and a Salesain Sister recently professed. My response to God's call has not been someting that just happened overnight, it has been a real journey of faith with many ups and downs.
When I was 19 years of age, I spent the best part of a year with a religious congregation, as I strived to respond to what I believed was God's call. However, the experience didn't work as I had hoped and I returned home. This period of my life was painful but as I look back I see it as a stepping stone to where I am now.
I decided to go to Sweden to work as a nanny, where it became clear to me that my passion was working with children and young people, and that my faith was extremely important to me. I returned home and went to University to study Theology and RE. At the end of this course, I met the Salesians and my life changed for ever. I was offered a job in Savio Retreat House on a 2 year contract, which stretched out to 8 years. The more I got to know Don Bosco, the more I began to be challenged by the same call I had heard before. My work was more than a job, it was a way of living. The Salesian priests and brothers with whom I lived were an inspiration to me.
So why move? I was happy; I had good friends, my own flat, good holidays; but somehting was missing. So many things impinged on His space. I knew I was being called to something more radical, to a more committed life. To cut a long story short, I began an accompaniment programme which led me to spend a year in community with the Salesian Sisters. I spent two years in Kendal deepening my relationship with God. I realised that same spirit of Don Bosco was being lived out in both communities. I asked to begin the novitiate, and so officially joined the Salesian Sisters. I was sent to an International Novitiate in Rome for 2 years. This was a real journey of self discovery: of a disciplined life and prayer, and a stripping-back of all the superficiality of life to make room for the Lord; a tough, enlightening journey, and the blessing of meeting 40 other like-minded young women from all over Europe, reponding to the same call to Salesian religious life.
On August 5, I made my first profession as an FMA, knowing that my companions in various places would be doing the same. The bond of prayer between us was pure gift. It was a wonderful, youthful, family day of celebration, faith and commitment. I am now in Liverpool as part of a community of 10 sisters. It is a wonderful place to be. I am attached to St John Bosco's school as a youth worker and director of VIDES, our volunteer organisation. I really feel my gifts and talents are being used for the good of young people. The novitiate has given me a good grounding to try daily to harmonise the spirit of work and prayer that Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello did so well.
It has been and contiues to be, a crazy adventure filled with so many blessings which have given me life.