Meet Irmã (Sister) Débora de Castro Alves, OSF
“With God I lie down, with God I arise…” This is a quote from a children’s evening prayer I often prayed as a child. I use it to convey my conviction that the loving and merciful presence of God was always alive within me.
The rosaries, novenas, Masses, catechetical preparation, talks, pastoral activities, nature and, principally, a loving family were all means through which I truly came to know the unbounded love of our God. At a Eucharistic celebration that I attended as a young girl, Father Daniel spoke of the various vocations, emphasizing priestly and religious vocations. His words really touched me and I felt at that moment – I can’t explain it – that God needed me. Father Daniel told those present that the priests and sisters were aging and that the time would come when they were no longer here on earth. He asked us, “Who will substitute for them? Who will take Bishop Munro’s place? Who will take Sister Johanna’s (Didier) place?” After the Mass, I said to Sr. Johanna, “Don’t worry anymore. When you are gone, I will stay in your place. “From that time on, she never failed to pray for my vocation.
Time passes, changes our ideas and fills us with a thousand and one questions but never abandons God’s designs. During an inter-congregational vocation encounter, I felt God’s call in my life strongly. I remember answering God’s prayer, “Yes, I will enter the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. If this is Your will, help me please, Father. But if it isn’t to be, show me what Your will is for me and continue helping me.” I spent time with the Sisters of St. Francis, asked to enter and was accepted. I desire to remain in community with our Sisters, although at times, I experience periods of darkness which leave me confused. But, thanks be to God, the sun insists on rising each morning and it is during these times that I understand all of life’s situations in the world help us grow. The difficult times are good for us because they teach us to place our love and confidence in the Father. Thus we are strengthened in our weakness and are reminded that “all things are possible in Him who strengthens me.”