Sister Marita Capili, age 45, is a novice who was born in the Philippines, lived in Guam and later moved to the United States. She currently lives with three other sisters at the novitiate in Spokane while taking two classes at Gonzaga University and volunteering at L’Arche.
In the beginning of my religious journey, it was not easy, especially the first year. I had grown up independent. I owned my own house and I did what I wanted to do. Entering into community living is a learning process. Before, every time I had trouble I could call friends, but friends can’t nourish your life the way God can. Community life is challenging, but it is the greatest gift of all because we became family.
In those early days, I would sit and look at the faces around the dinner table and think, “This is not my family.” Now I see those individuals as my sisters, and no physical distinctions get in the way. Their joy, their sorrow is mine. I have learned who they are and little things about them. I know their jokes and their stories. I love to hear their formation stories – about having to kiss the floor or to keep quiet. There’s a reason God didn’t call me in that time!
Sharing our stories, having our eyes meet, helps us know and learn from each other, and lift each other up. Sometimes the experiences are funny, like cooking in the kitchen with Sister Mirlande Desire, when she insists that my green pepper is hers and needed for her Haitian sauce. Or when Sister Ida Mae Marceau keeps pointing her finger at her nose and doesn’t even realize it.
Everyone joins in the fun and is very welcoming. Sister Josie Ramac is very energetic and always in motion. Sister Judy George supports you in her silence, prays for you and is very gentle. When you speak to her she sets aside what she’s doing, giving you full attention.
All have challenged me to discover the strength in me, and I thank them for that. All the sisters have good intentions. They love others and they all love God. Together, we learn to dialogue and to listen to one another. It is a great group. We realize how much we care for each other and give the respect of listening to each other. We also share the gift of discernment in decision making.
Always I ask God, “Where are you leading me?” God always responds. Everything is new. God will open me up with his grace, giving me very comfortable shoes that always fit.
Gift of discernment
Ministry was the focus of that first year. I volunteered at Women’s Hearth, Ronald McDonald House and at Mount St. Joseph. I was hearing a call from God that the most important thing is what belongs to your heart. I thought that would be to work with children, but I discovered that what truly belongs to my heart is Jesus. Put me anywhere and I will be okay. I just want to work with people.
My background is hospitality. I spent 14 years in hotel administration. I have to be connected with people. I have learned to integrate school, community, ministry and faith sharing. That’s a great combination to grow.
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure why I was here. Then I learned, “Be still and know that I am God.” Trust and surrender; that is the hardest thing but the most rewarding.