Called: Sister Norma Rodriguez
Called: To be a Caregiver
I’m a nurse’s aide for the community. I visit the elderly, the shut-ins. I bring them communion. I pray with them. Whatever is needed in their homes, I’ll do it for them. I also like to do hospice. I really enjoy that. Ever since I was a child, five years old, I wanted to be a nurse.
I come from a Hispanic background. I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My parents are Catholic but they were not practicing Catholics. I graduated from high school, didn’t go to college. I have three brothers. None of them are religious. The Lord must’ve had his hand on my mom’s womb because I don’t know how I became religious. No one in my family is religious. I didn’t grow up going to a Catholic school. I went to a public school. I graduated from a public school. But my godmother, who was Protestant and converted to Catholicism, I guess she introduced me to the church and she took me to church whenever she came around to visit. But when I went to church, there was always something there. I let go of the church for a while and then I got sad and depressed and I knew something was missing. One day my friend invited me back to the church and the father, the pastor of the church—it was the Easter vigil—invited me back into the church. He heard my confession, which is uncommon for them to do on Easter vigil, but he did it. It was nice, that welcoming back; that warmth.
It wasn’t until I started dating, around 20 years old…My boyfriend was Arabic and we got engaged and I invited him to come to church one day with me and when we came out, he asked me why am I not as happy with him as I am when I go to church, and I thought, “What are you talking about?” He said, “You have this bright smile on your face.” I said, “I’m smiling with you all the time.” He said, “No, there’s something different.” I said, “I don’t know.” We broke it off. Actually, he broke it off, which was good and which was healthy because I actually think God used him as his instrument for me, to help me to see that I was being called and that I was ignoring it!
I fell in love with this community
I’ve been here for almost 17 years. My parents, at first, didn’t want me to become a nun. They wanted me, typical Hispanic, to go get married, have my long hair, have kids, but God really…He just, I don’t know. If you’re open to Him, if you just listen, He just guides you. He really does. Watch what you ask for!
It’s been a good and a bad experience at the same time, but I’ve grown so much since I’ve entered religious life. And with my parents passing away about seven years ago, I’ve grown with the hustle and bustle of the community. I fell in love with this community. I visited other communities but I fell in love with this community when I came in and it felt like home. I went to the Manor and I fell in love with the little children’s little bathroom and that was it. [laughter] I truly believe this is where the Lord wants me to be. There’s no other place and as I continue to grow spiritually, physically and mentally, the more I appreciate the community. It’s home. I am grateful for what the Lord has given me. He has helped me to see my stubbornness and my jealousy and my pride and he knocks it down.
When we enter community—I have to keep this in perspective—I entered for the Lord, and to do His will, nothing else. I’m in community and hopefully I’m supporting them as they’ve been supporting me. They’ve become my family. It’s like with any other family; you have your struggles. I’ve grown. They’ve helped me to grow. I have a lot of sisters that I didn’t have before, which is nice. I have a learning disability, but they really help me through it. They work with me.
Each morning I get up and I say, “Okay, Lord, what is your will for me today? How can I help someone today?” It’s how open am I to the Lord? Religious life has helped me to develop that more. Every time I think about it, I’m in awe because I know it has to be the Lord.
Small and few, but mighty
It’s no longer how we dress, but how do we bring the spirit of Jesus into the world? Being a Hispanic sister, I’m just more out there and my feelings can show. Others are more private and quieter. So it’s kind of funny: How could the Lord call me to a Polish community when I’m Hispanic? But He did and I just felt at home. He’s awesome. The Lord is a comedian! As I continue to grow and continue to know Him more, He’s awesome. He’s amazing. He’s mine. He had me since the day I was born, there’s no doubt about that. The Lord has always been powerful to me. He is so awesome. I can’t live this life without Him. There’s no way I could even think of not having Him. He is so real and He’s always there, helping. Guiding. Always teaching me.
This is what religious life is for me, being able to share Him with the sisters and to grow. We are small and few, but we are mighty when we come together. We share our gifts. It’s the Lord. It’s nothing that I do. It’s Him, and I’ve grown and I thank my community for helping me to see Him. I learn from each one of them. The Lord has helped me to listen and to be open. It is so amazing.
I am very grateful for my life, for where I am right now at this time of my life, with my Lord and the community. I learn when they share their struggles with me and how God intervened with their lives. That’s what community is all about. Sharing in each other’s struggle and in each other’s joy.
It’s all His
Everything is a prayer. He is so alive. No matter what’s gong on in the world, He is so alive. Every day I ask, “Lord, help me to see some goodness. Help me to see the positive throughout my day, even through the negative, there has to be something good there for me to learn” and believe it or not, He shows it to me. Sometimes I don’t want to hear it, but if I want to grow, I have to see it.
I can talk to Him like anyone else. He’s my bud. He’s my friend. I can just yell, laugh, scream, cry, and play games with Him. He’s alive. He’s definitely alive. None of this
is mine. It’s all His. His energy, His spirit, His smile. None of it is mine and he knows that so well; better than I do. The Lord never leaves. I’m the one that leaves. When I left the church, how sad I got and how depressed I got, because I was hungry for the Lord. I missed the Lord, and I didn’t know, because there was no one there to help me to see, so I went back to the church. Everybody is going to go through their dark night, but if you know it and you believe in the Lord, no matter what, He will help you through. But not on your time. It’ll be on His time. He knew before I knew.