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Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Thank you, Father: Catholic sisters reflect on their lives as daughters"

From the Modesto Bee...

Photo at left: Sisters, Cecilia Corona, Estela Hernandez, Regina Alonzo and Adela Graciano, at Sisters of the Cross. Photo by Debbie Noda.

We thought it would be interesting to hear from sisters about fathers for this Father's Day. So we asked a handful of nuns at the cloistered Sisters of the Cross in Modesto and Sister Terry Davis, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Stockton, to share their memories of their dads. Here is what they said:

Learning the ABCs of life

There are many dimensions of my life and myself which I owe to my dad, Jim Davis, but there is one for which I am especially grateful. My dad regarded education as one of the most valuable gifts any of us could be given. He sacrificed much to ensure that each of us was well-educated and grew up delighting in discovery and knowledge.

I am on the board of directors for a new Catholic high school in south Sacramento, Cristo Rey, which offers young people from low-income families a college-prep education. Every year at the scholarship dinner for the school, I toast my dad and thank him publicly for his vision and commitment to education. He taught me that education is truly the only way out of poverty.

It is no accident that I joined a religious community dedicated to education, especially for poor women and children. I thank my dad every time I approach a problem with research, critical thinking and a reasoned approach. And I thank him whenever I pass on to anyone a love and opportunity for education.

- Sister Terry Davis,
Sisters of Notre Dame

Thankful for strict father

As a teenager, I thought my dad was not very nice with me, but firm and severe

instead. It was really hard to get his permission to go to dances, which I enjoyed very much. Now I understand God gave me the most wonderful parents on earth, and I give thanks I had a strict father.

When I decided to became a nun after meeting the sisters during a trip to Europe, we flew from Los Angeles to Mexico City. When we arrived at the Mother House of the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, my dad jokingly told the Mother Superior General: "I understand that my daughter will learn how to be obedient. I think she must learn the way to follow Christ as a little child and start crawling before walking."

My mom, Soledad Hernandez, is 91 years old, and my dad, Jesus Hernandez, is 93. They celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on June 9. Today, happy and thankful as I can be, I praise, and glorify the Lord, because my parents are the reflection of his wonderful love for us.

- Sister Estela Hernandez,
Sisters of the Cross

The greatest gift from God

I am the youngest of seven children. My father, Miguel Alonzo Romero, was my hero. His love built a family life that gave us honesty, hard work of self-giving, culture, humor, love, service and charity to God and those around us.

He played the guitar and sang. He taught me to dance. He knew how to love, correct, listen and keep secrets. You could always trust him.

After my Catholic faith and my call to a total belonging to God in religious life, I consider my father as the greatest gift I received from God. I was about 7 years old, when I had the sense of understanding what a vocation to the consecrated life was. I remember saying to God, "That is great, Lord, but not for me. I could not leave my father."

When I decided to follow the Lord's call to be a contemplative cloistered sister, I said to him, "Daddy, you always told me that when we have an ideal in life, we must follow it in the best way, and even give our life for it if necessary. This is how I have seen you live your life."

Yes, my father will always be my hero, and I know he is now only a little ahead, waiting for me in heaven.

- Sister Regina Alonzo

Father supports calling

From the first moment I felt my calling, I had to share my joy with someone. For me, that someone was my father. I felt naturally close to him in everything. Therefore, he was the first person I went to as soon as I knew that I wanted to be with Jesus, giving him my entire life.

My father knew how important a priest is for spiritual direction, so he told me to go talk to one. I said, "Dad, I was planning to see a priest, but I wanted you to be the first to know that I want to give my life to God."

My father was a humble instrument of the Lord. He made me feel secure about my vocation. Everyone in my family was expecting me to work as a dentist because I had just passed my professional exam. The support of my father was instrumental in leading me to my real vocation. My parents, Daniel and Teresa Corona, are now 80 and 76.

- Sister Cecilia Corona,
Sisters of the Cross

Take me out to the ball game

When we were little, it was a feast every day when my dad came home from work. All of us ran out to meet him, hugging and kissing him. He was very loving with all his family. He was very strict, but also very kind and generous with everybody. He had always a very good sense of humor; he was joyful and was easy to make friends. He was hard-working, responsible and wise.

My dad, Jesus Graciano Liera, was my hero. I used to follow him to be close to him. I was the sportiest girl at home, and when my two older brothers were attending university, I went with dad to see baseball games and had fun with him. He was very supportive and encouraged us to get a degree from the university since he didn't have that opportunity. He learned to read and write, but never attended school.

My mother, Gregoria Graciano, has died and my father is 88 and has Alzheimer's, but he keeps his sense of humor and his piety and is still very loving.

- Mother Superior Adela Graciano,
Sisters of the Cross

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