Karen Eng met the Daughters of St. Paul at a book display in 2001 and it changed her life This is the story of Karen's journey, in her own words.
WHEN I WAS in Primary Six, a friend wrote in my birthday card, "I have come so that you may have life and have it abundantly." (Jn 10:10) I didn't know it was from the Bible and was intrigued at what this could possibly mean. It was not until many years later when I was in vocational discernment that it dawned on me that no ordinary person would be able to deliver on that promise.
I grew up in a Taoist family and followed all the practices of the religion but without any personal conviction. Somehow, I felt dissatisfied with the answers I was given about Taoism and Buddhism. However, I was certain that there had to be a God â€˜out there' and I was determined to find him!
In my polytechnic days, I met two good friends, Susan and Theresa, who were Catholic. One day, they decided to pray the rosary with the Legion of Mary at lunch-time. I didn't want to eat alone and so began my "daily encounter" with the rosary.
Watching them pray the rosary, I sensed a sacredness and intimacy. Their love for Jesus and the life giving personal relationships they shared with him were so tangible! Finally, I experienced and accepted God as love and there was simply no turning back. In Catholicism, I discovered a God who loves me, a God who calls me to be in relationship with him.
I was hungry to learn more about God and started going for Mass on Sundays by myself. Week after week, I watched others stand in line to receive Jesus in Holy Communion and I felt my own longing grow. I knew then I wanted to be baptized so that I too could receive Jesus. Around the same time, I read "Story of a Soul" (the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux) and found my heart resonating with St. Therese's sentiments. I too desired to belong totally to Jesus, to become holy and to draw many souls to Jesus! In this resonance, the tiny seed of a religious vocation was awakened in me.
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On Dec 24, 1992, I was baptized Theresa and received my long-awaited First Communion. Years went by. I graduated from university, got my dream job at an exciting biological research lab and, at 25, I felt my life take off. I looked forward to all that life promised - marriage, children, a fulfilling career. On the surface, I seemed fine - I was young and had a promising career. But occasionally, I felt restless and this frightened me. I thought, "What's wrong with me? Everyone else seems satisfied with what they have. Who am I to be different, to think there could be more?" But as St. Augustine says it all: "You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
I hit rock-bottom with my quarter-life crisis - a crisis of identity and the meaning of my life. In utter brokenness, I asked Jesus to reveal his plan for my life - truly his will for me and not my own misguided attempts. Although I had been attracted to religious life (consecration, belonging totally to Jesus) on and off over the past nine years, my timidity and the incredulity of it all had kept me from speaking seriously to anyone about it.
Just when I told Jesus I was giving up on these â€˜strange ideas' that didn't seem realistic, I met the Daughters of St. Paul at a book display at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in 2001. I was attracted to their Eucharistic spirituality and how normal and happy the sisters were. From an innocent enquiry, I began the journey that would change my life.
A powerful experience that also shaped my desire to â€˜bring Christ to all' was the tragedy of Sep 11, 2001. From my grief for those who perished in such senseless cruelty, I gradually felt the desire for all to know God's healing and saving love. I became convinced of the meaning of my existence: to spend my life so that all may come to know Jesus and his infinite love for them.
I spent time with the Sisters, participating in their life and mission whenever I could and I felt a right â€˜fit' with their Eucharistic spirituality and media mission. In the sentiments of our Founder Blessed James Alberione: If St. Paul were alive today, he would use the fastest and most effective means to proclaim the Gospel - through the media!
I had my moments of fear and hesitation in the one-and-a-half years that I was discerning my vocation with the Daughters of St. Paul, but the words of Jesus, "Do not be afraid, I am with you" always remained with me. Amid the mixed reactions of family and friends, I took the remaining steps to join the Daughters of St. Paul.
In answering God's call, I discovered that my vocation is not about what I can do but about who I am and whose I am. On Jun 30, 2007, I will profess my First Vows in Boston, where I have spent the last four years (two years of postulancy, two years of novitiate). Looking back I have no regrets and looking ahead, I am excited because I have experienced the abundance of life that only Jesus can offer. "I have come so that you may have life and have it abundantly." (Jn 10:10)