I believe that I received the inspiration to become a Little Sister from my parents and grandparents. Growing up on the island of Tonga in the south Pacific, they always encouraged the children in our family to give our lives to God in whatever way they could. When I was in college, I tried to get rid of this longing to become a religious Sister and convince myself that it was just a foolish thought that I had. For three years I struggled between choosing to continue with my life as it was or to give my life to God. In 2009 I attended World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, which was a milestone in my spiritual battle. The experience of being there, listening to the message of Pope John Paul II: “Do not be afraid!” made a great impact on my life. God gave me the grace to go to confession and share my struggle with Jesus. I gave him all of my burden and said “Yes” to his call to follow Him in religious life. I never felt so free and so full of joy! I told my whole family about my decision and they were so very happy and proud of me.
Now I began searching for a religious community to enter. I was working as a secretary for the Nazareth Sisters and it was there that I met a Little Sister who was visiting from Sydney. She invited me to return with her and attend the Profession of seven Little Sisters, two of whom were from my home in Tonga. During the three months that I spent in Sydney, I fell in love with the residents, seeing their faces and being with them, gave me the strength to forget about myself and give the Lord all that I have.
While I was with the Little Sisters, I read about the life of St. Jeanne Jugan. I learned about her humility, her compassion, her self-sacrifice, giving up her own bed for an old blind woman and even begging for food and clothing for those in her care. She lost her father and left her family, telling her mother that God wanted her for himself. Jeanne is what really helped me to be strong, forget myself and give all to the Lord. “In serving the elderly, you are serving Jesus Christ himself.” These words, given to us by Jeanne, echo in my heart all of the time. When I was feeling homesick and missing my family it was her example and knowing that she loved me that gave me the strength to be a Little Sister.
The joy in being in the community, doing everything together, eating, working, praying together, having the sense that spirit and mind are one in giving everything to the elderly, is nothing but pure joy. It was also during that time that I believe I received a special grace through St. Jeanne Jugan during her Canonization.
After spending six months with the Little Sisters in Samoa, I entered the Congregation on October 28, 2010 and I made my Profession at St. Ann’s Novitiate in Queens Village, New York on June 1, 2013.
For me, it is a great joy and a great gift from God to be called to be a Little Sister of the Poor, to be a daughter of St. Jeanne Jugan, the humble servant of the poor.