Portrait of a sister in the making

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Taking the plunge
A successful TV producer at age 29, Brenda Velasco couldn’t ignore God’s call anymore. The thought of becoming a nun kept coming back to her—thrilling and scaring her all at once. After several months in “discernment,” as they say in the trade, she took the plunge. She entered a candidacy year with the Sisters of Providence in Yakima, Washington. The sisters marked her entrance with a ceremony and hung a special medal around her neck.

Living with the sisters
Brenda moved into the candidate house in Yakima (“The last city I wanted to be in—I don’t like the desert!”) and made a place for herself. She spent the next 12 months with four sisters and two other candidates. “It was more people than I had ever lived with in my life. But we three candidates shared the same fears and hopes.” They shared plenty of meals, prayers, conversations and card games, too.

Time for ministry, community, and prayer
After a few weeks of getting oriented, Brenda’s days took on a pattern. She took part in ministry, met regularly with a spiritual director, and even honed her skills in flower arranging during a retreat. Throughout it all, she received support, encouragement, and abundant welcome from the Yakima Sisters of Providence.

Finding a new passion
The highlight of Brenda’s candidacy year was helping out in an elementary art classroom. “I was hesitant to sign up for it because I had never really liked working with kids. I was a television producer—a journalist—not a teacher. Well, the Lord must have thought I needed to give children a chance because I ended up loving that rambunctious bunch of kids! That experience represented the trust I needed to give to God.”

Moving on
As her candidacy year ended and her year as a novice began, Brenda had the unusual opportunity to travel to Rome with the sisters. Her mom came, too, and they attended the beatification of Mother Emilie Gamelin, the foundress of the Sisters of Providence. “I miss the sisters in Yakima. I’m back in Spokane, a city I love, and I’m taking religious studies courses as part of my novice year. 

Surprise, surprise: I’m volunteering at a Catholic grade school here and absolutely loving it. I wonder if God is calling me to be a teacher. I know a lot is waiting for me as I look ahead to the future. But I’m just putting my life in God’s hands because he knows where I belong.”

Carol Schuck Scheiber is the content editor for VISION Vocation Guide.




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