From Chile to a religious call in Canada

By  Chris Miller, Canadian Catholic News
  • September 28, 2011

EDMONTON - By most standards, Sr. Loreto Andrea Leon Soto was like any other girl growing up in Santiago, Chile. Becoming a nun never occurred to the young girl who had a normal upbringing with close friends and a boyfriend.

But enter religious life she did. After five years of religious formation, Leon made her first profession of vows Sept. 20 at Providence Renewal Centre.

Leon came from a strong Catholic home where faith was essential. Christmas and Holy Week were more than just liturgical celebrations, they were a time to fully express the faith.

“I grew up in this ambience of faith, which was very normal within the family. Ever since I was a child I went to school with the Sisters of Providence, but I was never attracted to religious life. Actually, the sisters scared me.” She went to a small, one-room chapel that served a base Christian community. 

She gathered with others there to pray and read the Bible, and also to help people in need. These sorts of activities were enjoyable, as was going out in the evenings and sharing her faith with the people of the streets. She also went to the hospital and talked with patients, bringing them joy and love.

“Little by little this changed my life, but I was never thinking that I’d like to be a nun. My intention was to be like Jesus,” said Leon.

However, her vocation would soon become evident.

“I felt uncomfortable, as though something was missing in my life. I was doing OK in school and I had many friends, but something was missing.”

A turning point came when she took part in a celebration for the canonization of Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean saint. She felt God calling her to do something significant. She talked with a nun about this unfamiliar feeling stirring within her. This nun accompanied her through the process of finding this calling.

Neither her parents nor friends knew she was discerning a religious life. But eventually Leon spoke with her mother, a woman of tremendous wisdom, and she helped her daughter through prayers and with silence. Upon graduating high school, she needed to make a decision on what to do with her life. She chose to join the Sisters of Providence.

“I wrote to the congregation, and the time came when I needed to tell my father. It was difficult for him. He had a lot of high hopes and other plans for me. But now he is happy because he sees me happy,” she said.

Now, she desires to live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in community and has a desire to serve the needy. She is an artist, musician, organizer and is hospitable with everyone she meets. She prepares food hampers at Anawim Place for people in need.

(Western Catholic Reporter)

This article is part of our Call to Service special feature.

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