The 38 year old, who arrived in Adelaide earlier this year after making her First Vows in Brisbane on January 1, said becoming a Religious Sister was the best day of her life.
As a young woman she prayed for a soulmate in a marriage vocation, but before attending World Youth Day in Poland in 2016 she “surrendered her prayers to the Lord” and this freed her from praying for a “marriage life” and following God’s lead.
“I remember Archbishop Coleridge speaking to us after the commissioning Mass, ‘The Lord doesn’t call you on these pilgrimages just for joy, but rather God has a really strong message for you – that you need to keep pursuing and asking Jesus what is it’,” she recalled.
“So I allowed my heart to be more open and I went off to World Youth Day and one month later after returning, I still didn’t understand the message!
“I kept asking Jesus…what is the message, Lord? And then one day in front of the Blessed Sacrament there was that colourful bluey book that drew me to read it.
“I picked it up and it was the story about the life of St Magdalene of Canossa. It had been so long since I had read a book that I couldn’t put down – I think the last book was Harry Potter! Magdalene was so beautiful, so funny, humble and so human, and I said ‘I really like you’.
“She was a woman of nobility, so much wealth and love for the poor, and in her search of God’s will for her, she sees God’s greatest love through Christ Crucified.”
For Jessika, reading this book gave some clarity to understanding what the Lord was telling her; however, she still wanted a “bit more reassurance”.
At this point, she wondered if she was being called to “give Religious life a chance”. So she asked God to send someone to her to give her a message “loud and clear”.
“Two weeks later a Canossian Sister came and asked me, have you ever considered to properly discern Religious life? That was the Hallelujah moment, the moment that the Lord was inviting,” she beamed.
Jessika entered as a Postulant with the Canossian Daughters of Charity in July 2017. Two years later, she had her Novitiate formation in the Philippines – a stay extended by another six months due to the pandemic. This gave her precious time to journey with her companion Sisters and learn about the Canossian charism and through the intercession of the St Josephine Bakhita, in 2021 Jessika returned to Brisbane to continue her apostolic experience.
Describing herself as “spiritually young”, Sr Jessika said her faith conversion came while she was volunteering in Young Adults Ministry at the Cathedral of
St Stephen, Brisbane and she is currently studying youth work.
Now based in Salisbury, she said it was wonderful to meet and journey with the young people at the local parish.
“What I have received in God’s graciousness I really hope to share that gift by nurturing young people’s faith in the ministry of chaplaincy/pastoral care in schools and parishes. I would love to serve as a campus minister – that is my passion,” she said.
Also joining the Canossians in Adelaide this year is new community leader, Sr My Vu.
Previously based in Brisbane, Sr My has served as a hospital chaplain and is now is working at Nazareth Catholic College three days a week in the area of student pastoral care. She is also loving being part of the Salisbury parish and discovering the local area.
“The people are very friendly and they are very welcoming,” she said.
Sr Elda Sbarra, who has served in the Archdiocese for many years and celebrated her diamond jubilee of religious profession in 2021, is the other Canossian Sister based in Salisbury.Jump to next article