The Truth will Set You Free

Sister Helen's Story

Sister Helen grew up on her family's huge sheep and cattle property near St. George on the western Downs of Southern Queensland, doing most of her primary schooling by correspondence. After secondary school in Toowoomba Helen did a short stint at hairdressing, but drawn by the lure of the wide open spaces she retruned home to work as a jillaroo with her father. A trip to Europe with her older sister Margaret was to change the direction of her life. In Carmel her culinary skills are greatly appreciated and her artistic talents find various expressions - she is currently learning the art of candle-making. She is also responsible for the orchard and small vegetable garden.

sr helen

Looking back over my life I can see God’s Spirit leading me. When I drifted away from the practice of my faith, God waited patiently for me to ‘come to my senses’ like the Father in the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel. I had been away from the Church for about 8 years - from year 9 - and sought my happiness in buying nice clothes, travel, parties and friends etc. While all these were good, they could never give me that inner happiness I was unconsciously seeking.

 Inevitably the emptiness, meaninglessness and loneliness of a life lived on a material level struck me one day at about the age of 18 or 19. I noted when I went to parties or were with friends that life was great while they lasted, but when I came home I had to face another day of this inner emptiness and monotony of living. what was the point of it all? I started asking general life questions, which led me to think about a pop group whose music I liked. They were always talking about God in their lives and they always seemed so happy.

I doubted the existence of God, or at least, God was very remote from me. But I reasoned, ‘If God is real, why can’t he lead me to the truth?’ My prayer from that day on was, ‘God, if you are real, and you are up there, please lead me to the truth.’ I had thought that if I went to every religious leader in the world, they would all say that theirs was the true religion, so I could not trust any human person. It had to be God alone.

A year and a half later, while touring inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, God answered my prayer. For an instant of a second I had a realisation (my mind was opened to understand) how my Catholic faith was the truth and I knew I was home. From the age of 15 I somehow knew I was going to be a nun even though I did not want to be a nun. I was quite horrified that this thought could even come to my mind as by that age I already did not want anything to do with religion!

Now after being shown the Truth by the grace of the Spirit I wanted to know what God wanted me to do with the life he had given me. I knew there were plenty of other young people on the endless pursuit of happiness in whatever form - if only they could find Jesus their true friend. I thought of the different religious orders and their apostolates, but I was attracted by a life of contemplative prayer, as this is all powerful.

I was confused, though. I had this attraction to give myself to God, but as I was only 21 and had not yet met someone special, how was I to know if God may want me to marry? What if becoming a nun was just a figment of my imagination? (Which I hoped it was!) So I said to the Lord, ‘Wait till I’m 30, Lord, and if I haven’t fallen in love by then, I’ll think about becoming a nun.’

When I came back to my home town, I did meet that special young man, but then, after a year the Lord took him to himself in a freak sporting accident. Some time after this, while thinking over all the above mentioned story, I thought, ‘I am not yet 30, but I have fallen in love, and I promised I would try out religious life if the latter happened. So I said, ‘OK Lord, you win! I’ll give religious life a try.’ I was then surprised by a Peace that entered into me and which stayed with me, and it was this peace which gave me the courage to face any obstacle that came my way to prevent my entering into religious life.

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