By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
When Sister Angela Marie Igou, member of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, was discerning her life’s path she thought becoming a sister was impossible for her.
“I thought I had to be a saint to be a sister. I had to reconcile that God calls sinners. Those who have made mistakes know God’s mercy,” she said Nov. 6 to young people who gathered for Vocation Day Celebration at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton.
The celebration kicked off National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 6-12), a week dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew support for those who are considering a religious vocation.
As one of 12 children, Sister Angela Marie said she was very much formed in the faith by her family and was the recipient of God’s beautiful love through her parents.
“We all make mistakes. What I say to you young people is don’t let your mistakes define you. God is calling you to something higher than nitty gritty mistakes,” she said.
Before entering the convent when she was 22, she taught sewing classes and would find silent time to contemplate if she was living out what God was calling her to do.
“Mercy plays such a huge role when you are called to something. We need to know God’s mercy,” said Sister Angela Marie.
“We define ourselves by our sins and think God will love us if we do better. That is not true. God loves us. He wants us to better but will always love us.”
Father David Anthony
Father David Anthony, a graduate of Liberty High School and Lehigh University, Bethlehem, admitted he did not hear God’s “voice” when he was discerning the priesthood.
Instead, he tried to picture what would make him happy in 20 years.
“I thought a high-rise apartment in New York City, a great job and a cool car should do it. Then I thought a little more and I felt empty. The more I thought, the more I felt happy thinking about helping others,” he said.
While in college he came across the “Fishers of Men” vocations video and was moved by a clip of a priest absolving a car accident victim of his sins.
“If I were in that unfortunate circumstance – the one thing I would want is to have a priest there to bring me home to my holy father,” said Father Anthony.
“I thought if I became a priest and brought one soul home to God the father – then I realized I would be doing something good for all of eternity.”
He urged the young people to turn to God and ask him what is it that he is calling them to do in life.
“True and loving happiness comes only from God. God is definitely calling you to something. My prayer is you will ask God what it is,” said Father Anthony.
After Rebecca Isaac, a native of Australia and parishioner of St. Jane, graduated high school all her friends were anxious to travel and visit America.
“Not me. I had no interest in travelling. But God has a great sense of humor, and a few years later I called this great country my home,” she said.
Her call to married and family life began in 1972 during a family get-together when she met her future husband, Melaid Isaac, who was studying to become a doctor and was an army captain in the Vietnam War.
“My whole family fell in love with him – except for me. I wasn’t about to fall for him because he was leaving,” said Isaac.
He then asked her to write to him while he was at war and she obliged.
After the war they stopped writing and he returned to Pennsylvania to resume his medical studies. Her mother encouraged her to pray a St. Jude novena because all her friends were getting married.
“St. Jude is the patron saint of the hopeless. And I think my mother thought I was a hopeless cause,” joked Isaac.
On the last day of the novena, she received a letter from Melaid asking her to come visit him. Her grandmother suggested they head to Rome for a pilgrimage and stop in Easton, Pa. to visit him and his family.
Soon after they were engaged and married in 1978 – even though she had only seen him twice.
“We expressed love though the mail and calls. We knew our hearts were committed,” she said.
The night before their wedding Melaid asked her to understand that his profession as a doctor was truly a ministry to the sick and time consuming.
“It was a profession, but to him it was his vocation,” he said.
She entrusted her future to him and God. Together they had four children – including Father Stephan Isaac, who was ordained a diocesan priest last year and is assistant pastor at St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring.
In 2003 her husband died from cancer on the Feast of St. Jude.
“It was a marriage made in heaven. We wanted to bring each other to heaven. We encouraged holiness and shared our love. Living the life of a widow, I realized love never dies. My husband still has a positive influence on our lives,” said Isaac.
She then told the young people not to be afraid of marriage or sharing their life with another person.
“Be daring. Pray for a marriage made in heaven to whomever God brings to you – even if he or she is from the other side of the world,” said Isaac.
The event was hosted by the parish Vocations Committee and featured an essay about God’s abundant mercy written and read by Clarissa Lieb, student at Bethlehem Catholic High School.
The celebration also included Evening Prayer, Eucharistic adoration, music and fellowship.