Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Hilda Hersant writes about her vocation as a Franciscan Sister on her 50th jubilee as a religious. She died at our Motherhouse on September 13, 2011 at the age of 90 after professing her vows for 71 years. Thursday evening’s wake, Sister Louise Hembrecht, Community Director presented a reflection on Sister Hilda’s life of which she spent 23 years among Native people. Read here.
In this year of my Golden Jubilee as a Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, I find myself going back over these past 50 years, lingering over them, and warming myself over the fires of blessed memories. And as I recall the past, I acknowledge those who were a part of it with joyful gratitude.
I entered our Franciscan Community June, 1937, at the age of 16 in search of a dream of being the best I could be. It was a decision I never regretted for one moment. Once I answered YES to Jesus, I was certain that existence became very meaningful and that my life in self-surrender had a goal. As I reflect over the past 50 years, I realize with great clarity than ever before, that the dream I was in search of was sisterhood-to be free, to be able to leave everything behind without ever looking back. It was as a Sister that I related to Jesus, to my fellow Sisters, my students, my friends, and to all with whom I have had the privilege of working for the Kingdom.
As the years go by, I see that at the heart of the call to sisterhood is a life of simplicity, a life uncluttered with ambition and titles, a life infused with Gospel values of evangelical service and sisterly love, lived in availability to those who suffer from want, neglect, and injustice: the poor, the weak, and the disadvantaged.
The great turning point in my life came while working with the Native Americans. At this certain point, the paths of action and contemplation merged into love and reverence.
During the greatest crisis in Christ’s life, Mary stood at the foot of the cross. That is what I am to do-STAND-be there with the native people, not to teach them or give them a better life, or even to preach the Gospel. I find out from them who Christ is: I discover the real Christ of the Gospel. When I have become evangelized, the Gospel will be preached through the change in me. I dare not forget that I tread on holy ground…that God was here before my arrival.
This is what Yahweh asks of me, “To act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with Him.”