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A MISSIONARY HEART –

admin / January 15, 2021

Sr Juliana Devoy

After Sr Juliana’s demise, O Clarim received this touching piece which she wrote on her 60th anniversary and which we are now sharing with our readers. -Editor

I have celebrated 60 years as a Good Shepherd Sister.  My heart is so full of gratitude for this wonderful gift of my vocation that, like the psalmist, I want to “sing the mercies of the Lord forever.”

I entered the Good Shepherd Sisters in Los Angeles, California on September 12, 1954 a few months after graduating from high school.  I knew the Sisters only through a brochure which was passed around in school during the “vocation month” of March.  I was attracted by the pictures of the girls and also of the sisters at prayer. At that time Los Angeles was a province for the missions and from the very beginning I wanted to be a missionary to China.

IN GOOD SHEPHERD

The Sisters were “semi-contemplative” at that time, which meant that we had an enclosure and only went out of the convent in case of necessity.  When I said goodbye to my family I knew that they could come and visit me but I wouldn’t be going home again. Only the grace of God and the happiness that I experienced can explain how I could have made such a big sacrifice.  I am grateful for having lived that life which I truly loved and for the gift of spending a year in our Motherhouse in Angers, France where I made my final vows in 1960. 

I expected to be sent to an overseas country as a missionary right after my final vows but instead, to my disappointment, I kept hearing this refrain: “blossom where you are.”  I still remember the day I sat down on my bed and made an act of surrender, “Whatever you want, Lord, is OK with me.” To my great surprise a few days later I was taken out to get my passport and told I was going to Hong Kong. 

THE CHALLENGES

I arrived in Hong Kong in 1963 and with the exception of a few periods back in the United States for study, I’ve been in China for over 50 years, mostly in Hong Kong and Macau but with 2 one-year stints in Taiwan and one year in Xian, China teaching English. 

In Hong Kong I loved working with the teenage girls in our residential center.  They were so challenging but I always had a preference for the naughty ones. Today they are grandmothers and when they come back to visit we can laugh together at their escapades. 

I’m also so grateful for the years I was province leader and got to know our sisters in Thailand, South Korea and Myanmar.  It was such a privilege to pay frequent visits to those countries and learn about their history and culture. 

We also had Vietnamese sisters in our province who were out of the country at the fall of Saigon and chose to stay with the Good Shepherd Sisters.  Now so many years later they are back in their own country with a flourishing mission and many young sisters joining them.

THE INSPIRATION

When I was in Hong Kong, Macau was like the “poor relative” of Hong Kong and I used to think “Who would want to live in Macau?  There’s nothing going on there.”  I never dreamed that I would come to look on my more than 20 years in Macau as the greatest period of my missionary life. Pope Francis likes to speak of the “God of Surprises” and this is truly the story of my life.

Here in Macau there have been so many opportunities to create and innovate and do things that could never be done in other places. In our Good Shepherd Crisis Center we have been able to welcome a wide range of women and girls – from teenage pregnant girls to victims of domestic violence to under-age trafficking victims to a stranded Jamaican family, to a single parent mother who needed a place to stay near the hospital while she goes for chemo, and so many others that don’t fit into any category. 

Our chapel is the center and heart of our home where every day we Sisters gather to pray for the people who live with us.  I strongly believe it is the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the prayer life of the Sisters that makes this different assortment of people able to live together in a way that benefits all.  This includes us because we Sisters learn so much from the people we serve. 

Macau is such a small place that it is easy to meet people you know on the street.  Today whenever I go anywhere I’m sure to meet someone who was once in our Center. Some I don’t even recognize because it was many years ago and some were only children who came with their mothers and now they’re young adults. But they recognize me and will always come to greet me. 

It is such a joy to have been an instrument of God to touch so many lives.  Since I’m celebrating my 60 years as a Sister I’ve been telling everyone I meet that I can truly never thank God enough for this wonderful gift of my Good Shepherd vocation!