PERSONAL VOCATION STORIES
Born in Samoa in a typical large, devoted Catholic family with my grandparents, parents and extended family, I was surrounded by love and laughter. At the age of 6, I migrated to New Zealand together with family. As new settlers with dad the only breadwinner and mum choosing to stay home to take care of us, our family was quite poor, yet my parents deeply believed in God’s providence. They valued hard work, honesty and kindness. Mum instilled the values of gratitude, humility and cheerful giving. Dad reminded us to always be grounded in our roots and family values and keeping Jesus the centre of our life. It was a constant chant every day.
Now in my novitiate, reflecting back to where my discernment initially began, I chose the Salesian family because of their cheerfulness, the family spirit and strong missionary life with the young people through education. It’s so important for our young people to feel a sense of belonging and welcome. It’s a small gesture but incredibly empowering. There is so much to religious life than just prayer and mission. You come to rediscover who you truly are holistically and that’s what makes a person fully alive. It is a life long journey.
Growing up surrounded by love and exposed to different environments and stages development of youth, I was able to perceive life as a precious gift in understanding the needs of the poor, the vulnerable, and the ‘trouble-makers’. They may not be materially poor but poor in the sense of lack of love, understanding, and guidance. That’s why I love working with young people and their families. To make sure that “they know they are loved” as our founder St. Don Bosco would say. To make sure that there is a place for them in this world, that there is hope and joy and that there is God in the midst of their struggles and setbacks. There is always goodness in people.
All vocations are initiated by God. God calls and we respond. We have that freedom to choose and when we choose we do so with an open mind and a courageous heart. When God initiates a plan, God alone will make sure it will come to completion. You may not understand or feel it at the moment but you will someday. It takes time to discern. It takes courage to take that step forward. And it’s okay to feel unsure. That is the beauty of discernment. Allow the Holy Spirit to take control of your uncertainties and fear. As our co-founder St. Mary Mazzarello would write “trust in Jesus, put all your worries in His heart, leave it to Him.” Just as your life is a precious gift from God, so is your vocation. If you have a great love for the Eucharist and prayer, love building relationships in community and serving the young people with joy then perhaps this may be your vocation.