At 9 years old, I believed in God’s love. I was walking down the hallway of our Parisian apartment when suddenly I felt personally loved. How could God be interested in me, a little girl? Joy overwhelmed me. I knew at that precise moment that I would like to enter religious life as an adult. Being modest by nature, I grew up with this secret, even though I come from a large, very religious family. Later, during my studies, I asked myself the question all the time: was it a real calling or a childhood idea? Even though this desire was always on my mind, I didn’t feel sure: I’m someone who has trouble making decisions! I was waiting for a sign from heaven, that the Lord would choose for me.
Then, at 21, I met an Anglican priest as part of an ecumenical event in Paris. This meeting shocked me. I still remember his declaration of love during a romantic walk along the Seine*. He was English, so I followed him across the Channel where I settled for a year. From the start of our story, I preferred to tell him the truth, by telling him about my questions. He understood me. In heart-to-heart prayer, I felt the attraction for religious life, but I wanted more to turn towards marriage.
Embarrassed to share my heart in this way, I confined myself to polite relationships with God, only going to mass on Sundays.
The year passed, and I returned to Paris. I then went into silent retreat, and once I finally said “yes” to God, the calling became crystal clear. This part of my life today allows me to better understand the feelings of others. I have lived abroad for thirty years and one of my missions is to accompany people in their spiritual search, including young people who are wondering about their vocation. Sometimes I share a little of my experience with them. Although I kept in touch with my English friend by writing to him every Christmas, until his death two years ago, I never questioned my choice. The certainty I received in my childhood of being loved by God still accompanies me. And day after day, I receive this love.
*Unlike Catholic clergy, Anglican clergy can marry.