On March 30, one Sister of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart made her final vows, and two made their first vows. Here we share their stories

God whispered, ‘This could be you’

By Sister Hannah Barnett, SDHS

 I am the youngest of five children, with an identical twin sister. My parents were very involved in our parish, St. Martha in Murrieta.  At age nine, I had the chance to attend Sacred Heart Girls’ Camp in Big Bear for the first time.  It was my first experience with the Sacred Heart Sisters (or any Sisters) and I loved the week at camp.

 The week of camp I remember most happened when I was ten.  One night, two of the Sisters shared their vocation stories. As I listened, God whispered, “This could be you.”  It was just that simple.  It was a very comforting thought for me to consider being a Sister.

 I didn’t share this call from God with anyone until I was 15.  Although I hadn’t seen the Sisters in several years, God’s invitation hadn’t weakened at all. After being invited to a vocation day, I finally had the courage to tell my parents that I was open to the possibility of religious life.  By sharing it with others, I was able to accept God’s invitation a little more.

 As I prepared for high school graduation, religious life was the last thing on my mind.  My plans were to go to Saint Mary’s College of California where I received a scholarship.   Yet in all this, I never asked God what He wanted for me; instead I was telling Him what I wanted for me. 

 During the summer before college, I returned to Girls’ Camp for the first time in four years, this time serving as a counselor.  One night at campfire, as we read the Scriptures together, I was sitting near the back, talking with God.  I realized I would only be truly happy doing what God asked.  So I told Him, “I give you my life.  I give you my heart. I give you my plans. Whatever you ask of me, I will do it.” His call came back: “This is you. This is who I have created you to be.”  I knew He was asking me to give myself completely to Him as a Sister.  

 I started college that fall and enjoyed my classes, making new friends, being on my own.  After attending a retreat with our Sisters during Christmas break, I knew God was calling me to enter the Sacred Heart Sisters that year.  

 On September 15, 2010 I entered the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart.  I professed my first vows on March 23, 2013, and was blessed to make my perpetual profession on March 30.  I am truly happy doing what God wants me to do.  In fact, I am more joyful than I ever thought it was possible to be.

My Heart is full of Joy

By Sister Charis Kwon, SDHS

 When I was in high school, I fell in love with all things beauty-related. My goal was to become a fashion makeup artist someday. I started working at Kohl’s as a beauty supervisor while assisting a few successful makeup artists on set. I also fell in love with St. Paul the Apostle Parish’s Young Adult Ministry and became part of the Core Team. Ministry helped me to realize that even though I loved makeup artistry, I was more joyful at church than at work. 

 The chapel was on my way home from work and every day after my shift ended, I visited Jesus in the tabernacle. This desire to be with Jesus and share His love with others intensified within me. I desire deeply to know His wonderful plans for me. God led me to discernment events where I met the Sacred Heart Sisters.

 I started volunteering at their camps AND experienced so much joy at camp; it felt like I was at a Catholic Disneyland. One of the Sisters saw this joy in me and asked if I was considering religious life. I told her, “Yes…but I think I’m called to youth and young adult ministry.” That conversation really challenged me to go deeper. I kept asking myself, “Am I not giving God everything? Am I holding back?” It was in the quiet of my heart that God spoke to me: “Won’t you just be MINE first?” 

 Soon after, I opened myself up and start seriously discerning religious life. I struggled in surrendering to God’s plan for me. Whatever it was, I wanted to see it through. Finally I went to adoration on Divine Mercy Sunday where I knelt down and opened my hands to give God my very small “yes.” 

 In that same year, I entered our community, the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. Since then, I have fallen deeper in love with the God who created me. My heart is full of joy as I anticipate embracing Jesus, who is all beautiful, as my spouse. I could have spent my life painting faces, but God as the divine artist is molding me to be the most beautiful person I can be – a Sacred Heart Sister. Everything I do flows from this great artistry of His Love. 

I heard God calling me so clearly

By Sister Vivian Sun, SDHS

 As the youngest of three children, I was the trouble maker of the family: drawing on the walls, flooding bathrooms, and making a mess when I was left alone. When I was in high school, I went to the Girls Camp in Big Bear held by the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart (SDSH). I felt free to be myself there. It was the first time that I realized God was seeking out a relationship with me and He loved me, personally. Once, a Sister asked me if I thought about being a Sister. I told her plainly, “No.” I kept going back to help at the camps but the thought always stayed in the back of my mind. 

 I went to college at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where my faith started to become my own, not just my family’s. I helped lead Bible studies in a Christian fellowship called InterVarsity and was also involved in the Newman Club. These communities drew me into a deeper relationship with Jesus and brought me to know Jesus as someone with a heart for all His people. I graduated with a degree in International Studies and was open to do His will. Throughout my discernment, I was talking to the Vocations Director of SDSH, who helped me walk through God’s call for me. At the same time, I had a good job, was dating a very good Catholic young man, and was happy. But there was a part of me that knew there was something missing. It was only in Mass or praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament where I felt most fulfilled. 

 I still remember when I heard God calling me so clearly and yet mysteriously during Mass one day. It was not with a voice I could hear, but in the depths of my heart I knew He was calling my name and wanted me right now. After I said “yes” to God in my heart, told the Sisters, my family and friends, I found an overwhelming peace I have never felt before; my family saw a confidence in me they have never seen before. Having entered SDSH over two years ago, I am filled with gratitude and deep joy to make my First Profession of Vows, on March 30. Please keep me in your prayers! 

SAN BERNARDINO—The skies threatened rain and winter winds were chilly but, fittingly, sunshine poked through the clouds to bring light and warmth to a day worth celebrating.

 The Bishop Barnes Newman Center at Cal State, San Bernardino was dedicated with a liturgical ceremony and reception/open house on March 7.

 “The fact is that this building is a sign of our faith in our young people,” Bishop Gerald Barnes said during his homily. “It’s a place where students will come to be fed, to feed on the Gospel.”

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A look at the Triduum and our shared journey to the Resurrection

By Sister Jeremy Gallet, SP

 The seeds of liturgical spirituality were sown in me the first time I attended the restored liturgies of Holy Week in 1956. I was 11. I remember especially the Easter Vigil. The church was dark – and a little scary. Great clouds of incense floated upward. We all held lighted candles which flickered in the dark, making everything seem to move. I was very short and could barely see anything through the wall of adults surrounding me. Suddenly, above the heads of everyone, I glimpsed a great candle moving though the crowded church, its flame towering above the heads of even the tallest adult, and heard a strong baritone ring out, “Lumen Christi!” We all responded, “Deo Gratias!” I thought I would burst. The joy and wonder of that moment has stayed with me even to this day.

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By Brenda Noriega

 During World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, I had the blessing to have lunch with Pope Francis. I am still waiting to wake up! 

 The truth is that I am still unwrapping the experience, my blessing from heaven. One of the biggest blessings about that lunch was to now be connected with nine other wonderful young brothers and sisters from all over the world. We clicked the moment we met. I instantly functioned as the translator since I was the only fluent bilingual person in the room. I had the blessing to be a bridge between two languages, Spanish and English.

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By John Andrews

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As she sat in the balcony of the U.S. Capitol Building waiting for the President of the United States to make his entrance, Sister Hortensia Del Villar, S.A.C., remembered the words of her sixth grade teacher at Telfair Elementary School in Los Angeles.

 “She told us ‘you are part of the greatest democracy in the world, that works because there are checks and balances,’ “ Sr. Hortensia recalled Mrs. Witham saying.

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By Malie Hudson

 Going above and beyond the call of service not just once, but time and time again is what recipients of this year’s Amar Es Entregarse Award have in common. 

 The award is given to an individual or group who embody Bishop Gerald Barnes’ Episcopal Motto Amar Es Entregarse, “Love is the total giving of one’s self.” 

 Bishop Barnes will honor four extraordinary individuals and groups with the award at the 19th Annual Bishops Dinner on April 27. Two of the honorees are profiled here and the remaining two will be profiled in the April issue of the BYTE.

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