Full circle in the Year of Consecrated Life…

I heard my vocational call during Holy Week of 1998 (the Year of the Holy Spirit) while on retreat in Rome. That week started with Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope John Paul II. 

Later on in that week is when I “heard” the voice of God asking me to give up my desire to get married because that was standing in the way of me surrendering myself completely to Him. I knew that the path of my life was going to change and I knew deep down that giving up that desire meant accepting the radical call to consecrated life. 

A year later I had been accepted into the community of the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R., of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother. 

I have been in the community for almost 17 years now and on this past Palm Sunday (2015), I had an experience of a “full circle”. This time, I was in Krakow, Poland at the Wawel Cathedral with one of the same priests who was at that Palm Sunday mass in Rome in 1998: Cardinal Dziwisz (formerly JPII’s papal secretary.) 
meeting Cardinal Dziwisz outside his office in the room where JPII would stand and interact with the crowds outside the window during his visits to Krakow as pope (note the WYD 2016 sign next to us)
A few of us had met the Cardinal at his residence the day before (and got to venerate a 1st class relic of JPII in the chapel where he’d been ordained) and his secretary invited us to the special Palm Sunday mass the next day.  

When we arrived outside the cathedral, the Cardinal’s secretary gave me a huge palm (reminiscent of the bishop handing St. Clare a palm on a Palm Sunday over 800 years ago) and put me and a few students in the procession so we could be sure to get a seat and have a view of the altar. 

Sr. Maria Clare venerating a first class relic of St. John Paull II in Poland
It was a glorious 2 hour mass (with an eclectic combo of organ music with a choir alternating with folk music led by guitars and a drum.) I was in awe at how JPII continues to bless my life and give me little signs of encouragement in my vocation. 

This “full circle” experience during this year of consecrated life was not lost on me!
Sr. Joan Paule with Franciscan University students at Palm Sunday Mass at the Wawel Cathedral

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