“I have gained much more than what I have given up”
When Sister Mary Anne Francalanza considered religious life, she did what most of us do when we’re looking for a book or new outfit “I went on the internet.”
Sister Mary Anne took her final vows with the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) in Liverpool, Uk, ten years ago. And she smiles: “I was the first person to have contacted the Sisters through the internet.
“Nowadays most contact them through the web and social media but it was beginning of the internet then. “Today if people want to look for us we are on Facebook, Twitter, the lot… “It’s about finding God in all things and all places!”
Born in Birżebbuġa and now living in Liverpool, Sr MaryAnne Francalanza says that as she grows older, she is more relaxed with God. She spoke to Suzanne Vella about the joys and difficulties of living a spiritual life full-time.
“When I was younger, I was more worried about doing it right: praying correctly, for a particular amount of time, using verses from the gospels… I was trying to impress God! Now I am more relaxed. I know that nothing I do can impress, please or anger God. God just loves me, and the closer I let myself get to God, the more I let that love transform me into the best person I could ever be. I am more willing to let God enter every part of my life; those I am proud of and those I know need healing,” Sr MaryAnne says.
Asked whether it’s hard to live a celibate life especially if you meet a nice guy, or not buying something because you don’t have your own money, she replied: “I feel like a hypocrite when I try to answer this question because I don’t feel that I have left everything. I have gained much more than what I have given up. I have a community that loves and supports me. My family in Malta are only ever a video call away. I have a ministry that gives me joy and a sense of fulfilment. I have had so many opportunities to meet people from all walks of life and go places that I would not have had, had I not been a nun.
I work with people who really have nothing, not by choice, but because life has been hard for them. Compared to these people I am rich both materially and with respect to my relationships. There are some hardships in my life as there are in all walks of life, but they are not the first things I think of when I reflect on my life.
Definitely, there are times when I feel that I lack something, maybe a special person for whom I am ‘the one’, maybe an item that might be considered a luxury, or a time of holiday. When this happens, I try to be gentle with myself while also placing it all in perspective. It often does not take me long to realise how much I have that I am grateful for. The best remedy for these times of desolation is a chat with a good friend or taking time out of the busyness of everyday life to do something fun and relaxing.
I do not see the religious vows as things I have rejected, but rather as life choices that free me to be a happy person who is sometimes able to cooperate with God in bringing this wonderful dream, that we call God’s kingdom, to reality.”
The FCJ nuns live their life based on the Jesuit Constitutions. To get to know more about them, visit their website fcjsisters.org or their Facebook page FCJ Young Adult Network.