When people hear that I entered the convent, I am not sure what they imagine. But I am pretty sure some people picture a dour group of women in habits, possibly with winged veils waking at 4:30AM for prayer and eating porridge for breakfast.
So, when I mention the fun we actually have together in the convent, I know that some people are surprised. The look on their faces indicates that they are thinking something along the lines of - "Fun? Really? Is that allowed in a convent?"
Yes, yes it is my friends. It is possible to have fun and be joyful, and I am realizing that the joy I feel in the convent is much fuller that what I felt before.
One such thing that brought me joy recently was our pumpkin adventure which started a few weeks ago at a nearby farm where we all carefully chose our pumpkins. Several weeks later we got together to carve them. Cheryl, Theresa, Laura and Jackie carved pumpkins and Erin, Sr. Karen and Sr. Margaret Michael busied themselves cooking the pumpkins we did not carve and baking salted pumpkin seeds.
Our fall adventure resulted in a delicious meal of pumpkin risotto made by Erin and the rest of the pumpkin insides will provide us with scrumptious pies, cookies and Sr. Margaret Michael's special pumpkin spice muffins.
Here are the results of our prodigious creative minds:
Jackie's Holy Pumpkin
Theresa's Spooky Cat
Laura and Cheryl's Sneaky Grins
The simple joys of life, nothing beats them.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
In today’s Gospel (Thursday), Jesus says “I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49) This morning, during my meditation, I realized that last night I witnessed one of those fires that was set by our Lord. I would even dare to say it’s blazing. Some of us went to Incarnate Word (http://www.incarnate-word.org/) parish last night to go to one of their Wednesday prayer nights. What an amazing and beautiful evening we had. The young people of that parish gave me so much hope, encouragement, and courage to live out my faith better. Every Wednesday evening between 50-100 high school students come voluntarily to this parish to praise God. The evening began with some praise and worship music led by Adam Bitter (http://www.adambitter.com/). Yesterday, our very own Postulant, Erin, played her viola along with Adam. After several songs, one of the teens, Nick, gave a talk about not being complacent in our faith. He reminded us how easy it is to slip into bad habits in our prayer life and that over time these lead us farther and farther away from God. Following Nick’s talk, the Youth Minister Dan also gave a short talk that tied in some of the themes Nick brought up. At the end of his talk, Dan invited the teens to really think about the times that their prayer life was strong and what it was they were doing that made it so strong. One by one, they spontaneously began to share their own experiences with the whole group – very practical things they had done to make God a part of their day. I was amazed at their openness and the freedom with which they shared their experiences with their peers. There was definitely an atmosphere of trust and love for one another in the room. They all gave me some great ideas that I can use myself. One of the youths mentioned that reading a little bit of the Bible every day has really helped her, that she realized that Jesus is present not just in the Eucharist, but also in the Word. And so when she prays with the Scriptures, Christ is really present to her - even in her room. After the sharing, Adam and Erin led us in some more songs praising God. Many of the teens were down on their knees before a large cross praying to Jesus. As they felt called by the Holy Spirit, some of their peers would go over and pray with them. It was really beautiful to see them ministering to and praying for each other. I’m so thankful I decided to go last night. They were such a wonderful witness to me. It brings me great joy and hope to see the flames of faith so alive in those young men and women who are ready to set their world ablaze with the love of God.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Ever marvel at the ways that God uses to show us how much He loves us? Well, one afternoon, a friend of our community who had been to our Benefit dinner a couple of weeks ago surprised us with gifts of beautiful warm blankets that she had made for each one of us!! She said that she understood how it felt to be away from home and that she wanted to give us something that would help us "feel at home". Well, we are TRULY enjoying them :-) Really, a BIG thanks to you all who touch our lives through your love, prayers, and support in our journey as we strive to follow Christ more closely in our lives. You are a wonderful reminder of God's closeness, tender love and generosity to us...God richly bless you!
One of our evenings after dinner, we got chatting about our new I-phone applications. Sr. Margaret Timothy (our Provincial superior), still visiting with us after Annual Benefit Dinner, gave us the "inside scoop" on these new applications. It was quite amazing to see how these new tools have immense potential to help people meet God and give wings to the Gospel message. From soothing meditations to powerful retreat experiences, the possibilities are truly endless! Hope you get a chance to download some stuff yourself (http://www.pauline.org/) ... Of course, we had lots of fun exploring the I-pad games as well...
Earlier this month, we had our annual benefit dinner here in St. Louis. It's a wonderful time when some of the sisters who have been "missioned" here before, return for the dinner and re-connect with old friends. The dinner is also a fund-raiser for the needs of our province. We had over 270 people in attendance! It was great to meet so many friends and collaborators in our mission :-) Needless to say, it was a blast! When all was said and done, we stopped by Ted Drewes (it's tradition!) for frozen custard. Thanks be to God for the gift of friendship!
Saturday, October 2, 2010
What is your name?
Cheryl Khristina Bayot Galema
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Philippines then my family immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2001.
How old are you?
I turned 31 in April, 2010.
I'm the eldest of four. My two younger sisters are both in their twenties and our youngest brother is turning 15 in December of this year (2010). They all still live with our dear parents in Toronto.
When did you enter the Daughters of St Paul?
September 1, 2010.
Where did you go to School?
I went to the School of the Holy Spirit in Quezon City, Philippines for elementary and highschool and graduated in 1996. Then I completed my BS Computer Science degree at the University of the Philippines (Diliman Campus) in 2000.
What do you like to do professionally and for fun?
I spent a lot of time reading books, watching TV, singing and dancing when I was younger. I also enjoy singing in the choir and playing the guitar. I started to get fascinated with computers before Windows 3.1 existed and continue to enjoy the technological advances to this day. I worked in web and database programming since I graduated from university and then I also had an opportunity to team lead and manage a brilliant team of web developers in the past couple years. I'm VERY glad to have the time now to read more and start practicing to play the guitar again. Nature walks and going to the beach are my favorite ways to relax.
What languages do you speak?
Filipino and English
How did you meet the Daughters of St Paul?
In 2004, a friend of mine needed to get a bible and she knew about the Pauline Books & Media in Toronto so I tagged along with her. From that time, we would always go there to get books for ourselves or as gifts to friends and family. In 2006, we attended one of their Faith and Film nights and that was the first time I got acquainted and actually "shook hands" with a nun! I may have considered religious life then but I was quick to brush it off and get on with my life. However, my friend and I kept coming back to the bookcentre at least once a year to get some books, music CDs and DVDs that helped us grow in our faith.
In June of 2008, I picked out the Life & Soul magazine from my mail (a quarterly magazine by the Daughters of St Paul) and it was the year of St Paul so I got curious and went online to browse http://www.pauline.org/. I found myself reading about their spirituality, the founder, their devotion to Jesus as the Divine Master, and ended up on the vocation page! I felt really drawn to "come and see" what this community is about and felt the Holy Spirit giving me the grace to take a closer look at religious life. So in August 2008, I finally "met" the Daughters of St Paul in Chicago for the young adult vocation retreat.
What drew you to the Daughters of St. Paul?
Jesus as friend but also as "teacher" had a very strong impact in my life growing up so the sisters' relationship to Jesus as "Divine Master, Way, Truth, and Life" really attracted me. Their Eucharistic spirituality; daily mass and hour of adoration reminds me so much of 3 of my dearest friends whom I met at different times in my life, who often invited me to accompany them to chapel... something that I wouldn't normally do by myself. Their mission of proclaiming Christ through the media also attracted me because I often found God's message of love, mercy and forgiveness through books that I read, songs that I listen to, and movies that I watch. But what really made me decide to move forward with applying for postulancy is when my heart was deeply moved by Jesus words to their founder, Blessed James Alberione, that can be found in their chapel...
"Do not be afraid, I am with you, From here I want to enlighten, Live with a penitent heart."
Favorite Scripture Passage:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine."
- Isaiah 43:1