By Sister Callista Tetteh, CSC
“God has called me, here I am” was the response I gave when Sister Esther Adjoa Entsiwah, CSC, called my name as a candidate for perpetual profession. That response sounds very simple and reflected my feelings following a long period of discernment, doubt, uncertainty, anger, devastation, joy, laughter, anxiety and hope. The feelings were many and complicated, culminating in internal struggles that one goes through to come to a simple “yes.” It’s a struggle of the mind and heart—to come to that moment of peace with such a decision is quite challenging. In spite of all this, I stood at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Catholic Church of Cape Coast, Ghana, on August 31, 2019, to make a perpetual commitment to a life I am not quite sure I totally comprehend, but, I do so wholeheartedly trusting in God’s faithfulness.
One thing I am sure of is that I recognize that God has been part of my journey from day one. God has guided my path and literally held my hand up to this point. I feel that I am a better Christian today and I am able to love better because I am a religious woman—particularly a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The exposure to experiences in life and opportunities to make an impact in an authentic way is what convinces me that Holy Cross is where God is calling me. I feel a sense of peace and harmony in my soul—and now, I can say like Mary, that my soul is filled with joy.
There have been challenges along the way. There were times I questioned my motivations as a religious and whether religious life was God’s plan for me. I am thankful that in all those moments I was fortunate to have been blessed with people who supported me with their prayers and encouragement and helped me stay focused on the mission. I recognize that those were moments that helped me grow and shaped me into who I am now. My faith in God is deeper now, and like St. Paul, I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have made it. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ who has so wondrously reached out for me.
On the eve of making my perpetual profession, I reflected on what St. Paul tells the church in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 about the image of the body and its different parts. We each have a role to play, to promote the mission of the Congregation and the mission of Christ. We are all gifted differently. I need to identify the gift that I bring to this body and how it can be used for the benefit of the Congregation. I was privileged to have made my eight-day final vows preparatory retreat at the motherhouse, at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. On one of my walks to the cemetery, I reflected on the lives of the sisters laid to rest there, and the role they played in the Church and in the Congregation. They faithfully walked the path that I was on the threshold of perpetually committing to. They graced their generation and helped right the wrongs. They toiled, labored and planted the seeds, and their work of service is what strengthened my resolve to commit my life, realizing that my story is part of the big story of Holy Cross.
Saying my “yes” in Holy Cross, and going forward into the future, I pray that I will always remember I form a piece of the whole and so without my piece the circle is incomplete—that I will not relent in doing what needs to be done to promote the mission of Jesus. I pray that when my light becomes dim, I will be shown where to find fuel to put energy into my light. Finally, I pray for companions who will be able to challenge me and bring me back to where I find joy and fulfillment in the Lord. May the Spirit of God keep my fire, our fire, alive.
With the psalmist I say, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim God’s name, make known among the nations what God has done. Sing to God, sing praises, tell of all God’s wonderful acts; glory in God’s name and let the heart of all those who seek the Lord rejoice.” Amen.