My name is Nora Ruiz; I’m a Pre-Novice with the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate. I was brought up in the Catholic Church. I was taught by Sisters at St. Paul's Elementary school and at Ursuline Academy. After high School, I studied at the University of the Incarnate Word. I believe now that I was always searching. I realize that God is never going to hit a young woman on the head and say “this is it.” However, there were little signs that led me to start looking at Religious Life. I know God was always guiding me toward Religious Life, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
I got married, divorced, and got an annulment. While I was working at a professional job and was very successful, I was volunteering with Saint Brigid’s Parish youth program, and I enjoyed it. The Pastor at St. Brigid’s asked me to consider working as the Director of Youth Ministry. I accepted the job, knowing I’d have to take a huge cut in salary. I loved working with the youth. Soon I began again thinking about religious life though I knew very little about it. I started attending discernment retreats. Although still questioning, little signs kept popping up. For example, •there was a picture of me on Facebook, attending a retreat at the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate Motherhouse; •my birthday is on the feast day of their Foundress – July 19th. •My mom went to Ursuline Academy with Sister Kay Jo Evelo. The signs were there, but it took time for me to recognize them.
As time went on I began to look more seriously at religious life. I visited different Communities. I was taking classes at UIW with one of the Incarnate Word Sisters from Corpus Christi (Texas). They invited me to visit with them. After that visit I began the process for acceptance into their Community, but I believe God was saying “this isn’t the right Community”. I ran into challenges, including having a large school debt which stopped the process. I thought “I'm going to be a youth minister, that is what God is calling me to.”
In the meantime, I was trying to get contact Sr. Kathleen Huguet, a Sister of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, but I didn’t have any contact information. So, I thought again, “I’ll be a youth minister, that's where God wants me.”
As a youth minister, I went to different conferences and it was at one of those conferences that I met Sister Kathleen. She asked what I was doing. I told her I was a Youth Minister for Saint Brigid Parish. I also told her about my vocation journey and the challenges I encountered. She said “there‘s a person I want you to meet. Her name is Sister Miriam Mitchell, she’s the new Vocation Director for the Sisters of the Holy Spirit; she’s here at the conference.” But I wasn’t ready to talk with her.
Later Sister Kathleen saw me again and this tine insisted that I meet Sister Miriam. After a brief conversation, Sister Miriam invited me to visit with her at the Motherhouse. I did go and we formed a wonderful relationship. Each time I visited the Motherhouse, I felt a peace that I never felt before. The Sisters hugged me each time I visited, and I felt a genuine love that I had never known before. In my past, I experienced a lot of turmoil and pain. This love felt so special, and I believed this must be where God wanted me to be. I met regularly with Sister Miriam, and all the obstacles seemed to melt away.
Each time I joined the Sisters in prayer I felt great joy; I felt “this is home; this is where God is calling me”. I love the openness the Sisters have, and their desire to learn what's going on, to updated themselves on new technology, and be involved in issues affecting the broader community, especially people who are poor and living on the margins of society.
Now as a Pre-Novice, I continue to discern, but I truly believe this is where I belong, As I go through the steps of Formation, I realize that I was so busy being a Youth Minister, I never really ministered to myself. And I realize that God will always see me through. Relying on God is so beautiful!
Giving up my paycheck was difficult, it was another reality step in my vocation journey. But with the guidance of my Formation Director, the prayers, openness, and loving support of the Sisters, and a God who loves and cares for me more than I ever realized, I truly believe I’m following the path God has planned for me.