Sr Danielle Pang (second from left), seen with her family members and Archbishop Nicholas Chia after her final profession as an FMM Sister. Photo: MARIAN BENNY

When Danielle Pang visited the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary’s (FMM) prayer room in Kovan Road, she did not expect to become a Religious herself one day.

Speaking to CatholicNews, the convert to Catholicism said she was happy in her sales and marketing job which required her to travel, and Friday was “happy hour” to her. Despite all this, the 47-year-old felt there was “more” to life.

After her baptism, she decided to quit her job to develop her spiritual life.

On March 19, she made her final profession as an FMM Sister at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Recalling her vocational journey, she said, “I was very hungry to learn to pray.”

She would visit the FMM’s St Clare Cottage’s adoration room often but realised that she needed to learn to listen to God in her prayer time.

Sr Assunta Leong, the novice mistress at that time, then taught her contemplative prayer.

That was when Sr Danielle deepened her acquaintanceship with the FMM Sisters.

She said she was attracted to the simplicity of the nuns, and during a discernment retreat, had a vision of a large group comprising people of all walks of life. She added that this fitted in well with the FMM Sisters’ charism – simplicity, mission and the Eucharist.

Her mission exposure has taken her to Kota Bahru, Malaysia, where she worked in a kindergarten. She also spent time in India for theology studies.

A memorable experience in a village in Bangalore where the community were mostly not Catholics. During Christmas, Sr Danielle together with other Religious, a priest and a handful of Catholics went carolling, and they were eventually joined by villagers.

“They have this reverence even though they were non-Catholics,” she said.

Life was simple in India – some places had no taps – and Sr Danielle had to go to the well to fetch water. Electricity was sometimes unavailable in the day.

Looking back on her spiritual journey, Sr Danielle says her challenges included “letting go of the self”, having joined the congregation after years of working life.

She had also faced objections from her mother, who did not give her a hug when she left for her initial formation. However, her mum eventually gave her blessing, encouraged her to be a “good Religious” and told her not to give “half-hearted” service.

Reflecting on what it means to be a missionary, Sr Danielle says such a person has to exercise his or her charism wherever he or she is. “If I have to be in a house here, I’m a missionary here ... For me, being a missionary does not mean I have to travel far. It means wherever I am, I live my life as an FMM ... giving life, giving Christ.”

On where she may be posted in the future, Sr Danielle says this depends on the needs of the FMM province. Her life, she says, “is in the hands of God and where God directs, I will go”.

by Darren Boon
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