Sister Angela chooses contemplative life
by Geraldine McGloin, Correspondent
February 1, 2013
Grill separates Sister Angela from her mother Ernestina, as the two enjoy some time together before family returned home from Missouri.
Esteban Hiracheta for South Texas Catholic
With this famous passage from St. Augustine resting in her heart, Angela Hiracheta, made her profession of faith on Nov. 21, 2012 upon her entrance into and acceptance by the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, also known as the Pink Sisters. She will live her novitiate in St. Louis, Missouri at the Mount Grace Convent.
A native of Taft in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Sister Angela taught first grade for eight years in the Taft schools before beginning her journey in religious life. Her discernment for a vocation in contemplative life has been ongoing and active.
Sister Angela was greatly influenced by the doctors of the Church, such as the Carmelites, St. Therese of Liesuex and St. Teresa of Avila.
“I was especially drawn to the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, ‘Story of a Soul.’ I had read it as a child, but it was not until I was in my early twenties–after reading St. Teresa of Avila’s ‘Book of My Life’¬–that I began to seriously think about the possibility of becoming a nun and I told my family about it,” Sister Angela said.
In the coming years, her family helped her discern, as did her pastor Father Francisco Lopez at Immaculate Conception parish. After reading an article in the South Texas Catholic about the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters she felt inspired to contact their local convent for more information.
As is recommended by her order for young women discerning a religious life, she asked Father Lopez to serve as her spiritual director.
“Spiritual direction is a process for everyone; some take longer than others,” Father Lopez said. “I spent time with her looking at different possibilities of religious life for her to pursue; active ministry or contemplative.”
Sister Angela chose the contemplative life.
“I found God’s will was written in me, in that I felt an attraction to a complete and special life of prayer and work instead of an active life,” Sister Angela said. “The purpose of this order particularly is to pray for the missions and the priests, who are doing the active work, which appealed very much to me. Although I loved working with the staff, children and families as a teacher, I wished to have a sole focus on prayer and intercession to be able to touch as many people as possible with my prayers. I saw the other service orders as very good but not as what God was calling of me.”
Sister Angela feels her strong Catholic upbringing and education were critical to her call to contemplative life. She said her parents Ernestina and Henry Hiracheta were largely responsible for her spiritual yearning.
“Even though they had limited financial means and prospects, they tried to give us (she and her five siblings) any opportunity they could to form our spiritual growth, making sure we prayed regular family Rosary, sharing and having available to us good Catholic books on saints and Catholic teaching,” Sister Angela said.
Her parents endeavored to be good role models, putting the children in Catholic schools as long as they could even though they could not easily afford it. At times her father worked three jobs and her mother worked off and on as she was able to between her work as wife and mother.
The Mass and sacraments were of first priority.
“We attended our local weekly religious classes, regular confession, daily Mass when possible, visits to the Adoration Chapel as much as possible even night adoration. My parents worked in a team effort to do the best they could to make our faith the first priority in our lives,” Sister Angela said.
Catholic schools were a great help, providing regular and solid Catholic teaching to further the children’s spiritual growth. Faithful priests also provided good examples to the children while they grew up.
Sister Angela attended Catholic elementary schools at Holy Family and Most Precious Blood in Corpus Christi. She attended Taft High School and ultimately graduated from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she received her bachelor and master’s in science, which prepared her for a teaching career.
Her years in the classroom caused her to reflect on her small charges.
“I saw the goodness and love my little students had, they wanted to be good and loving. That is a gift from God,” Sister Angela said. “Some came from families with a strong spiritual foundation, others, not so much. I wanted to pray for all of them and eventually realized that through a life of prayer I could focus on it all of the time and also pray for the world.”
Essential to a contemplative life is silence, which is often mysterious to the outside world.
“We learn to maintain our inner silence and to quiet the chatter both external and internal. I used to have a lot of chatter going on,” Sister Angela said, with a small laugh.
The order of Pink Sisters, which is strictly contemplative and cloistered, maintains 21 convents around the world, including one in Corpus Christi. Nine sisters live in the local convent. Once she is professed, the order will decide where Sister Angela will be assigned.
Asked about the rewards she expected after choosing a contemplative life, Sister Angela said, “Joyful freedom in doing God’s will as it manifests itself in my daily life.”
“Even in difficult moments, Jesus is ever ready to help us,” she said. “In following God’s will, in my case, particularly as a cloistered contemplative nun, God helps me be aware of grace in a way I had not been before and gives me joy where I did not know would come. I am finding a beautiful peace here at the convent thus far at this point in my vocation process. The rewards of such a life are being able to rejoice in God’s goodness in being able to assist in the salvation of priceless souls helped through our prayers.”
Her advice to other young woman considering a consecrated contemplative life is not to be afraid. “If she is afraid or if any challenges present themselves as she works to discover God’s will for her vocation, bring her fears to Jesus and allow him to solve them for you. Find a novena to pray, I recommend the Infant Child Jesus of Prague,” Sister Angela said.
She also suggested going to Mass more than once a week if able, visiting the Adoration chapel and reading Scripture. “Just whatever you can to listen more closely to Jesus and spend more time with him. Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘Do not be afraid to open wide the doors to Christ. He takes nothing away and gives back a hundred fold’.”