Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
God’s Guidance and Calling
May God be praised!
I am Sister Charitas Hwung Meung Heui, a Korean Sister and a member of the Japan Province.
I was born in a beautiful countryside where great rice fields stretched out like the waves of the sea, and the orange horizon could be seen at a distance in the evening. I had a happy childhood, spent in an ordinary family of six: father, mother, an older sister, an older brother, me, and a younger sister.
Having been encouraged by my older sister, I began studying catechism at the Church from March 1989, and was baptized on the evening of December 24. I received baptism at the age of 25. I was full of joy and my heart was trembling with happiness. From then on, I was determined to live, not just as I wished, but as God willed. Even now, that decision comes clearly before my mind. After receiving baptism, I gladly attended Holy Mass every Sunday.
When work did not go well; friends got married, and more often I went to church. I gradually began to enjoy praying quietly alone. Around this time, I mentioned to a friend about entering religious life, and was told that “that would be impossible being such a coward as I was.” So recognizing that my will was weak, I gave up that idea. Although I was teaching at the boarding school, it did not seem to be enough. By chance, in a bus I saw an advertisement of a nursing school, and I recalled what I had always wanted to do. That was: while I was going to college, my mother had gotten ill and in bed, she was always happy when I would cook some soup for her, and give her comfort. Therefore my dream was to become a nurse.
Then, I saw in the weekly bulletin of the Seoul Catholic Church, that there was to be a vocation assembly with the names of the concerned religious communities listed. When I saw the name: “Hospital Sisters of St. Francis”, I felt excitement fill my chest. For me, who had wanted to become a nurse, it seemed that I had to enter that community, I could do something, and I would be happy. As I think of it now, it seems a mystery.
However, I did not follow immediately. For one year I only looked at the name of this Community. Then, in autumn, I left everything, and knocked at the convent gate asking to serve the sick with the Lord. At that time, Sister Laetitia and Sister Pacis had come from the Japan Province, and warmly welcomed me. From then on, I longed to become a member of the Congregation; and since I would belong to the Japanese Province, I would have to learn the language. That was a little frightening for me, as I would have to learn a language of which I had known nothing. In middle school I had studied English, and in college French, but was not able to speak it; so I tried to avoid foreign languages. However, since I had decided to enter the community, I wanted to obey.
Now, when looking back, I think my vocation began, when I was baptized. But after baptism, there was a time when that joy became a dream, and I had closed my ears to God’s call. However, it seems to have been a time in preparation for entering religious life, and God was waiting for me to come back.
On September 23, 2007, I entered. I could see that many of the Sisters of Japan Province were elderly. I have not told anyone, but when I first saw the sisters of this community, the inspiration came to me that I would rather care of these elderly than for children. On September 24, 2011 I received the grace of making first vows, and am involved with the care of the elderly. There is a lot we can learn from the elderly.
My nameday is on the feast of the Sacred Heart. Before entering the convent, one day after returning from Holy Mass, I bought a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and one of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and hung them on the wall of my room without special thought. After receiving my religious name, I recalled this event.
On September 2 of this year, I pronounced my final vows. Even feeling sorry for the many times I have failed God, I always want to come back to religious life. I am praying that many young people will enter this community.