Missionary Sister still responds to call with joy

By Sister María Josefa García
My name is María Josefa García Alvarez. I was born in a town in the highlands of the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. This beautiful place is called Guadalcálzar.
My parents, Antonio Garcia and Maria Alvarez, of happy memory, had eight children, Felipe, Teresa, Concha, Pedro, María Josefa, Esther, Jesús and Moisés. I am the fifth daughter. I was baptized with the name Josefina in honor of San José. When I was registered they named me María Josefa, which is what my family uses. My friends call me Josefina.
At a very early age I felt that God was calling me to be a nun. I played celebrating Mass and I cared for the things on the altar. When I finished elementary school, my teacher, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart and Holy Mary of Guadalupe, invited the girls to go with her to continue studying and prepare to be missionaries.
I recognize this as the key moment in my vocational calling, although I believe that God called me from the womb: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” (Jer. 1:4 )
At age 12, I asked my parents permission to enter the convent, and as you might expect, my parents said no. They told me I needed to study and that later on they would reconsider. I continued my high school studies in my hometown and then I went to the city of San Luis Potosí to study preparatory school. I still did not have permission from my parents to go to the convent.
During all these years, the Lord never stopped calling me and inviting me to follow him. I was a normal young girl, with lots of friends. I attended parties and dances but none of this made me happy. I continued looking for God, participating in my church as a catechist and sharing my faith with the children. I also had a friendship with Father José S. Hernández, a priest in my home town. He was God’s instrument to take me to the final step.
He got permission from my parents and guided me to enter the Congregation of the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Morelia, Mich., on Oct. 29, 1973.
I really liked the spirituality of this congregation and I carefully studied and read the books on spirituality that the mother superior gave me.
I entered the first stage, one year as postulant, then I continued to the second stage, two years as a novice.  I had a great willingness to learn and prepare to be a good missionary.
Finally, the great day came for me. I made my first vows to God, promising poverty, chastity and obedience, in the Congregation of the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, on Aug. 15, 1976.
I continued my religious training, the third phase, which is called Juniorate. During  three years I studied ecclesiastical sciences and religious. In August of 1979 I was sent to an indigenous community in the state of Guerrero in Mexico. I was already living my dream to be a missionary and I felt very happy.
A quote from the Bible that has always motivated me to continue is: “Whoever wishes to come after me must denied himself, take out his cross, and follow me For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34)
During my years of religious life I have been sent to minister in Puerto Rico, Florida, Colorado, California, Alabama and now I am serving in Mississippi. During all my years of missionary life I have constantly felt the loving presence of God in my life. His promise is: “Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you.” (Jer 1:8)
After 39 years of missionary life I still say, ‘Yes, Jesus, in bad times and in good times’ to all he asks of me. It encourages me that he is with us until the end of times, his mercy and fidelity are eternal. I ask the youth no to be afraid and to give the ‘yes’ to Jesus when he calls them.
Times have changed. With the Second Vatican Council there were many changes in the whole church and religious life was no the exception; we continue in a process of profound renewal. In this Year of Consecrated Life, something new is happening even though we are not seeing it with clarity yet, but God is preparing us a great surprise. The new life in Christ will sprout.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away … (Rev. 21:1).
(Sr. Maria Josepha Garcia works in the Office of Hispanic Ministry for the diocese. Other religious who wish to send reflections for the Year of Mercy should send them to editor@mississippicatholic.com)