Daughters of St. Paul, Sr. Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP
What God Wants for Me
By Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP
My name is Sr. Marlyn Evangelina Monge. I am from East Boston, a first generation American. My parents are from Costa Rica, and I was born shortly after they immigrated to the United States. SrMarlynEvangelinaMonge_FSP
Growing up, whenever I thought about religious life, I always pushed the idea aside saying to myself that I was not “good” enough to be a sister. In my home parish, Sacred Heart in East Boston, I helped out with the youth group as well as taught religious education—the first year of the two-year confirmation program. One night the class I was teaching was on vocations. I talked about the vocation to married life, to single life, and to religious life and/or the priesthood. I implored my students to not be afraid and to ask God what he wanted for them. I told them that God wants our total happiness and that they should then be willing to ask God what he wants for them and then do as God asks. I was hoping that sitting in my class there were future priests, brothers, and sisters. After class, one of the kids who was also in the youth group approached me and said, “I’m just wondering…do you ever walk the walk or do you just talk the talk? Have you ever asked God what he wants for you?” I was left with my mouth hanging open and I tried to deflect the question back onto him. But he had made his point, and I couldn’t help but think about what he said. I realized that I wasn’t practicing what I preached. With much fear and trepidation I began in my personal prayer to ask God what he wanted for me. At this time I was about 27 years old.
I later took a group to an archdiocesan middle school rally. During the Mass, Cardinal Law addressed us and asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. He then asked that if we had ever had even a fleeting thought about religious life/priesthood to raise our hands. Slowly I raised my hand and instantly tears filled my eyes. I was “publicly” admitting the struggle in my heart (even though no one could see). The cardinal then invited all the women over 18 to a discernment day at the seminary. Sisters from many orders would be there to talk to. I chose to attend. From the group of women that attended the discernment day the archdiocese formed a discernment group called Fiat—a group of women in discernment as well as sisters from the archdiocese. I attended their monthly meetings.
At the discernment day I met Sr. Rebecca Hoffart, a Daughter of St. Paul, and we got the chance to talk a bit. I later attended a “Come and See” event at the Daughters of St. Paul, and then another, and then another. I visited other religious orders as well, but I always came back to the Daughters. I loved the community atmosphere, although I was unsure how my training and work as a teacher fit in with their charism of communication through the media. That was hard for me. I had entered the teaching field after much prayer, feeling that that was where God was leading me, so I couldn’t understand how now God could lead me where I wouldn’t be teaching.
I prayed a lot, visited other religious communities, and talked a lot to my spiritual director. In total I was in discernment for about 2 ½ to 3 years. With the Daughters of St. Paul I was in discernment for a little over one year before I entered. In December 2000, Sr. Carmen sent me something in the mail. She told me that she was going on a pilgrimage to Italy and that on December 31, 2000, the night between the centuries, she would be praying at the cathedral in Alba, just as Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, had done exactly 100 years before. She told me that she would be praying for me and my continued discernment. She invited me to pray also on that night between the centuries. And so on December 31, I went to my parish (Sacred Heart in East Boston) to pray. The pastor gave me the key so that I could get into the church. I arrived at 11pm and stayed into 2001. It was during this time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that I recognized and accepted God’s invitation to take the next step in my discernment. I felt sure that God was asking me to apply. Four or five days later I sent Sr. Carmen an e-mail asking to begin the application process. I was admitted and entered the community on August 22, 2001. I made first profession on January 29, 2005.
I am currently stationed in our community of Miami, Florida, where I am studying philosophy and theology. I also help out in our Pauline Book & Media Center, our Spanish Distribution Center, and help to coordinate various events such as our monthly Paulinas Coffee House.
To anyone reading this who is discerning a religious vocation, I would like to say: Trust that God wants you to be happy. Sr. Carmen once said at a discernment retreat, “the will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” When I heard those words I realized that if God was calling me to religious life then it would be God who would help me live life as a religious. And ever since taking those first steps of discernment, God has definitely showered me with his graces to live the joyful and difficult moments of religious life. The words found in all of our chapels affirm Jesus’ promise: “Do Not Fear. I Am With You.”