Sr Judith Yuen, FMM
Since my mother asked the superior in Hong Kong to send me back to her, the pre-novice mistress sensed that I needed to go back home. She asked me if I could find a job easily. I had no idea how life would become after I left the FMM sisters, but to let her be at peace, I just answered, “I think it will be alright since I am a qualified teacher.”
Though I was feeling sad to leave, somehow, there was a trace of serenity in the depth of my heart, knowing that the Lord must be waiting for me in Hong Kong, but the thought of the cross waiting there for me scared me. What was the cross? During the days of waiting, I had a strong desire to stay in the convent in Hong Kong while looking for a way out. I was afraid that once I returned home, my uncle and grandmother would try every way to stop me going back to religious life: my vocation was at stake! I expressed my desire to the pre-novice mistress, she had written a letter to the superior in Hong Kong to send me home upon my arrival, then she wrote another letter to explain my desire. The final day came when I said goodbye to the sisters in the pre-novitiate and went back to Hong Kong alone. I was praying during the whole journey that the Lord would be my help.
Upon arrival, as expected, the superior who came to fetch me wanted to drive me home immediately, saying that that was the message she got. I begged her to let me go to the convent first to explain my case. I showed her the second letter of the pre-novice mistress, and asked her if I could stay in the community while settling my family problem. She said it might not be possible because a pre-novice could not stay in the community without anybody to care for her. Besides, the new provincial just appointed was still in Rome. She could not make the decision on her own. She suggested that I would go home first and come back when my family calmed down.
Forgetting my hunger and fatigue, I argued with her for 3 hours, telling her how I was called by God, how I struggled with my family to enter and how I escaped from home. I told her once I returned home, there would be no way to return to religious life again. Finally, she agreed to let me stay in the community, waiting for the provincial to be back for further decision. It must be the good God intervening for me. I was exhausted after the journey and the long talk, but glad to have the chance to stay, though not knowing what came next.
When the new provincial, Sr Viola Wing, came back from Rome, she tried to understand what happened to me from the superior. She saw me and let me express my desire to keep my vocation, to follow Christ in the FMM way. Days seemed long to wait for her decision. Then, I was allowed to stay in the community, at the same time to solve my family problem.
There was no clue on how to settle my family problem, when to get back to the pre-novitiate and continue my journey in religious life. I had to take things as they came, one day at a time. My uncle was angry because I did not return home, he did not let me go home to see my grandma unless I removed my veil (a sign of entry into pre-novitiate). I refused even when the superior gave me permission to do so. The main reason was to let him know my firm decision to stay in religious life. My grandma was desperate not to be able to see me. Everytime I called her when uncle and aunt were out, she would cry and beg me to go home to see her. In my helplessness, the only thing was to turn to the Lord – I knew he cared.
Every evening after supper, I would go into the chapel quietly, kneel before Christ in the dark, pouring out my heart’s pain to him in tears, asking him to show me his way. After that, I would get back peace of heart and strength to go on…
The sisters heard of my story and were very kind to me, tried what they could to cheer me up. Three sisters took care of me in the place of the pre-novice mistress, keeping up my initial formation. I was involved in the life of the community, helping here and there, sometimes replacing teachers in the school during their leave. The Lord was opening windows for me after shutting the door to the pre-novitiate.
One sister in the community, hearing about my difficulty to visit my grandma, contacted her brother who lived in the same building as my grandma. He was a fervent catholic of my parish, he was very kind and offered to let me see my grandma in his house. Whenever I knew my uncle and aunt were out for work, I would call grandma, pick her up at the open space two floors above my home to avoid meeting my family members, and go to the house of that catholic to meet secretly. We could not stay too long in case my uncle or aunt would notice the absence of grandma. Only God knew how long I needed to stay in this situation – he was testing my trust for him and strengthening my desire to follow him. (To be continued.)