sisters of the INCARNATE WORD

A Sister Story

Sister Helga Leija

The idea of joining a religious congregation was something I found appealing, yet I never discussed it. During college I met a Sister of Divine Providence who impressed me with her spirit and the radical way she lived the Gospel. I couldn’t help but admire her, although I never thought God would call me. I thought God only called people who had it all together.

I was born on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border. I grew up in Mexico and attended high school and college in the U.S. One day, as I prayed in the school’s little chapel, I just knew it. I wanted to belong completely to God just like the Sister I had met. Secretly I started searching for information about religious life. Several months later I told a priest I wanted to be a Sister and asked him what I needed. “A vocation,” he said. At the time I was sure I did not have a vocation, but I prayed for one. I pleaded with God, “I want to love you and serve you. If you give me a vocation, I will be yours forever.”

Two years passed and I continued to pray and discern, asking God what he really wanted for me. I met with my spiritual director, made retreats, taught and directed the choir in my parish. Eventually, I met the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament of Corpus Christi, Texas, at their Language Institute in Brownsville, Texas, where I studied Italian. A nun welcomed me wearing a white and red habit. I guess she noticed the look of shock on my face when she asked if I had ever thought about becoming a Sister. I think I nodded nervously, and several minutes later another Sister arrived. She invited me to their convent and to a retreat the very next day. I continued visiting them, and more and more I felt at home.

After four years of discernment and many visits, I entered the postulancy of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in 2004. Our mission is to worship Jesus, the Incarnate Word, and to make Jesus visible in the world. In 2008 I made my first vows and look forward to making my perpetual vows on July 30, 2011, at St. Mary’s Church, Brownsville, Texas

A Sister Story