by Sister Josephine Marie Melican, Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine.
In celebration of the Year for Consecrated Life, we bring our readers a series of articles told by religious sisters and religious order priests and brothers, who will share the joy of their vocation. Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine Josephine Marie Melican shares her story.
Picture: Sister Josephine Melican (on the left) visits a moment with Mary Bray after giving her the Body of Christ. Sister Melican serves as a minister to the sick for St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park. (LINDA CALDWELL | FC)
My calling came about slowly. I was a Navy brat so we moved around quite a bit. We moved to Florida in 1950 and I became acquainted with the Sisters of St. Joseph. There was just something there that I liked very much. There was a joy. There was happiness. There was serenity. My dad was from New England and like many men from New England, he said that his daughter would go to a Catholic school.
We lived in Jacksonville, and the only school that had an opening was on the other side of town. My dad decided that I would have no choice but to go there. When my dad took me to register, I saw an elderly sister standing on the porch praying the rosary. The idea flashed across my mind, ‘That’s what you’re going to be.’
I thought not me because my plan was that I was going to be a nurse. I was going to marry a doctor and we were going to have three boys and three girls. My life was all planned out because I loved nursing. It didn’t work out that way.
As the years progressed and I became closer to the sisters, I felt that there was a real call there. Yes, this is what God was calling me to. Many times I would be out dating and I would be dancing with this one particular gentleman, we were very serious, and the thought would come, this is not what you want. God was more or less saying, I want you not to become married and have children with your gentleman friend. I want you for me. And there was no competition.
I entered the community when I was a junior in high school and made my final profession in 1960.
My ministry has been diverse. I was a teacher and then studied gerontology. I have had many experiences with the young and the old. The greatest joy I have found in my vocation is the fact that I can really help the elderly because so many times they are so lonely and they are scared.
I have been able to help alleviate those fears. I have been at the death bed of many of our retired sisters and others. I think that brought me closer to God because you are with these individuals just before they meet their God, and there would be such a peace about them. Today, I am involved in ministry to the sick at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park.
The joy of my vocation has been the ability to see that I have helped people in some way and have brought them closer to God. By bringing them closer to God, I’ve become closer to him.