“Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal. Prepare yourself in every way you can by increasing your knowledge and adding to your experience so that you can make the most of opportunity when it occurs.” [Mario Andretti – Racing Driver]
It was October 1848. After a long, tiring and eventful journey, Euphrasie had finally arrived at the Hermitage in the village of Cuves where the Sisters of Calvary lived and where they had a boarding school.
Although the Congregation had been founded only eight years before by Fr. Chantome, a Divine Word priest, it was flourishing because many young women, like Euphrasie, felt called by God to work in far off mission fields. At this time however, Fr. Chantome was away working on an important project and so the young Congregation was in the capable hands of the very first Missionary sister of Calvary, Sr. Marie Guyot.
It was Sr. Marie Guyot herself accompanied by another sister, Sr. St. John, who hurried down to welcome their new postulant. As the weary traveller climbed down freom the rickety old cart feeling both dishevelled and tired, the two sisters greeted her warmly and with great excitement though they were surprised that she seemed so young. After arranging for her to have something to eat, they left her to eat quietly and went to ‘make arrangements’, they said. Euphrasie was puzzled by this and wondered why she was suddenly feeling anxious and uneasy – maybe, after seeing her, they felt she was unsuitable or not strong enough for their kind of life! Had the Lord brought her all this way just to try her and confuse her once again?
Eventually the sisters returned and, as Euphrasie stood up, her heart beating unnaturally fast, she was being questioned.
‘How old are you?’ asked Sr. Marie .
‘Nineteen’, replied Euphrasie. ‘I shall be twenty on the 4th of January next year.’
‘You seem very young and very small!’ Sr. Marie continued hesitantly. ‘We are very happy to have you here my dear, but we think it might be advisable for you to wait a little longer before becoming one of us!’
Euphrasie stared at both sisters in consternation and disbelief. After leaving all those whom she had known and loved, undertaken a hazardous and tedious journey, convinced that God was calling her to serve him as a Missionary Sister, was she to be disappointed and turned away?
Just as her hopes and dreams began to crumble in a mist of dismay, Sr. Marie continued, ‘We do not mean that you should return home again but we do think that you would benefit by further education. You are very, very young in appearance so we thought that you might like to spend a year in our boarding school before finally deciding your vocation!’
Euphrasie was crushed. Thoughts were racing around in her head in panic. ‘Is God testing me? What does He want me to do? What is God’s will for me now?’ There was a poignant silence and then Euphrasie remembered the words of Fr. Lefournier, her spiritual director. ‘Live for God and God alone – He will guide and direct you every step of the way.’
Although the words nearly choked her as she struggled to swallow a huge lump in her throat, Euphrasie spoke to Sr. Marie, ‘ All right, I will go to the boarding school for a year.’
The next morning, school began again and the new student applied herself totally to her studies. Time went on and Sr. Marie realised that Euphrasie was far beyond her companions in maturity and judgement. Her academic work was surprisingly good, she was gifted with her hands.
As they observed her closely, Sr. Marie and her companion Sr. St. John were soon forced to review their earlier decision, especially when they saw Euphrasie’s acceptance of their recommendation to go back to school in spite of her bitter disappointment.
‘That is in itself, a sign of her spiritual depth,’ said Sr. St. John. ‘It takes most of us a long time to accept God’s will especially when He seems to contradict our dearest wishes.!’
Eliza Taylor once wrote,
“Disappointment is to a noble soul what cold water is to burning metal – it strengthens, tempers and intensifies but never destroys it.”
The Lord was indeed preparing Euphrasie in so many ways for her future mission!
Sister Louise Shields, Rndm