On the Marian nature of my vocation

I will be entering a Dominican convent later this year on the Feast of Saint Augustine, three and a half months after I turn nineteen. Growing up, I never imagined that I would make such a radical decision at this age. In high school, my course load was tailored with the intent of becoming a doctor, and I have no memory of considering a religious vocation or even seeing a religious sister before I was 16.

In the July prior to my junior year, our parish LifeTeen group received a new youth minister. A week after meeting him, he asked me if I had ever considered the religious life. “What? Me? No,” I snapped. However, this question planted in me the seed of vocational discernment, a seed which could not be rooted out until I prayed about God’s call for my life.

Soon after this seed was planted, I spoke to Fr. Dave, my parish priest, and told him, “I think I have a vocation to join the Carmelite order. After all, I was named after Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” Father Dave was pleased to hear this news. We chatted in his sea breeze-scented office. Later, he sent me off with a books on Carmelite prayer and Carmelite history, the two of which I dug into right away.

While I eventually decided not to join the Carmelites, this experience still had an valuable impact on my discernment of religious life. I later realized that Our Lady of Mount Carmel had shown me the scapular as a means to bring me to Our Lady, Queen of Preachers. In all aspects of my vocational discernment, Mary has been my guiding star, Stella Maris.

My devotion to the rosary has had a powerful influence on my vocation. The rosary, which I found boring and tedious as a child, was said at the various Filipino prayer gatherings I attended growing up. When I was six, as I observed the adults enunciate their Aves, I said to myself, “I don’t think I’ll ever be this religious.” Lo and behold, a decade later, the devotion to the Holy Rosary became my own.

The summer before my junior year, I had the opportunity to spend an hour in silent prayer with my Lifeteen leadership group. And so, I embarked, rosary in hand, across the parish garden. Looping around the parking lot, I found myself standing atop a grassy hill behind the church, staring at the cross atop the cupola. It was both a Thursday and the Feast of the Transfiguration. As I prayed the fourth luminous mystery, I was overcome with tears of joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding. It was at this precise moment, that I was––as the mystery––transfigured: I felt called to the religious life.

I first came into contact with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist when I was invited to one of their retreats during the spring of my senior year. During the retreat, they passed around slips of paper with different Marian names. I stuck my hand into the envelope, and I drew “Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.”

During the retreat, I met with the vocations director, Sister Joseph Andrew, OP. When I stepped into her office, she sneezed three times and exclaimed, “Three for the Trinity!” Sr. Joseph Andrew lit me up with vigor and joy for the Dominicans and their lifestyle. Following many months of prayer and discernment, I made the decision to join the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. An unexplainable joy follows the grace given by God when you are right where you are meant to be.

Bea Cuasay is a Candidate for Pre-Postulancy with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Dawn Eden Goldstein once asked who her vocation patron was at a Liturgical Institute summer soirée; without thinking, she answered “Saint Augustine.” If you too are into Confessions, City of God, or other works by the Doctor of Grace, email her at bcuasay01@saintmarys.edu.