My name is Paula. I was an ordinary girl born into an ordinary family in the big country of the Soviet Union, when the communists persecuted anybody who believed in God. For me it was a time of great tension and fear.
Although my parents felt helpless at the oppression of the system, their faith remained strong. We prayed together and our parents and grandparents taught us to love the Church and its traditions.
At school the situation was no better. We could not share our faith in public nor could we speak about God or any spiritual events in our life, such as the reception of the Sacraments, Christmas, Easter and so on. Everything was a big secret!
When I was a child the priesthood and religious life were a big mystery. I remember saying to my mum: “I want to be a priest!” She simply responded: “No, you can’t because you are a girl!”
When I was 15 years old, I saw a nun in a long black habit for the first time in my life. I was excited. I asked myself: “How about me? Do I want to be a nun?” I thought to myself: probably yes!
But when I started high school, I forgot all about this “nun business”. I had a dream that seemed like a plan for my life. First, I would finish university, after that I would get married and then have 3 children.
That was my plan. So, I began my studies, found a boyfriend, went to discos, and danced through the night. But there was a big problem. I was never happy inside and I asked myself, “what’s wrong?”
However, Jesus had a different plan which I did not understand. So I prayed.
Then one day I met a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. I do not remember the conversation, but until today I remember her smile. She invited me to visit the convent and I felt right at home.
I wondered why they were so happy, and I was not.
So, I started the long hard process of discernment and asked Jesus a lot of difficult questions. After one year, I decided to talk to the Mother Superior. It was now or never!
I remember saying to her: “Mother Superior, I want to belong to Jesus.”
She said:” Does this mean you want to be a sister?”
I said: “Yes!”
And she replied: “Oh, I knew that!”
I never asked how she knew that, but for me, her words were a confirmation that filled my heart with peace.
After a couple of months, I entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Now 29 years later, I am a happy person.
I call my journey – “a dance with Jesus” because I like to listen to his music in prayer and dance with him.
– By Sr Paula Volchek