“I’m Trying to be God, but I’m Not.”| Sr. Gianna Marie, O.P.

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Born in Santa Rosa, CA, moving to Steubenville, Ohio, and finally settling in South Dakota, Sr. Gianna Marie, O.P. shares with Sr. Joseph Andrew the struggles she faced when confronted by God’s desire to have her for Himself.

Sr. Gianna Marie, O.P. I didn’t really think about God that much; I went to Mass, I did everything that my parents asked me out of my love for them, but not for the love of Him. I didn’t really see God as a person and definitely didn’t think about His love for me. He just was something on my checklist and so because of that, I lived under this illusion that I was self-sufficient.

I’ve found that whenever you share your vocation story, it deepens your love for your vocation and it always just renews me in my gratitude for the vocation, for my family, and for the community.

I met the Carmelites at the age of 8! I met them and I thought, “I want to be another Saint Thérèse and I don’t really like boys, anyway.” I had four brothers, remember? So at the very wise age of eight I decided I’d be another Thérèse and wanted to be a Carmelite; beautiful, beautiful vocation, but wrong reason.

Attending the vows ceremony of Sr. Elizabeth Ann (of our community) when I was a little older (9 or 10 years old) and a little wiser, I thought, “Gosh, the Dominicans are really beautiful too and you know, I have to wear the habit for my whole life. The Dominican habit is a little more beautiful than the Carmelite habit. I’m not so sure that I’m choosing the right one.” Yes, still the wrong reasons, still thought boys were just jerks, so I thought, “Well, I’ll sort that out when I’m older.” So I had on my plate, you know, Carmelite or maybe Dominican Sisters of Mary.

As a teenager I remember distinctly landing in Detroit and two Sisters coming out of the big white van and I had this peace and this joy and I felt so at home with them. “Oh, I feel completely myself.” I didn’t feel like I had to be somebody who I wasn’t and you know for a high-schooler …

I just felt so at home so at peace and but the practical side of me was like, “Oh this is just a phase. This is just a ghost of when you were a little girl and how silly that was.”

So shortly before praying Vespers with the Sisters, confession was available, and for the first time I was really honest and I saw so clearly that I believed I was self-sufficient and that I was miserable and I was very honest with the priest and said, “I’m trying to be God.” And he spoke just beautiful loving words about how God in His Infinite mercy and patience still loved me and that I need to just go before him with empty hands and an open heart.

I realized “I’m supposed to be a Sister.” God had been infinitely patient with me and also merciful because He could have let me live my life, go to college, still work through all of this distress, this lack of peace, but in His mercy, He acted at that moment.