Are you drawn to prayer and to spend time alone with God in silence and solitude? Are you attracted to a life lived in communion with others? Do you feel called to a life of consecration in love and service to God and His Church? Are you discerning for a religious vocation?
For those of us who have said “yes” to the call of being a Carmelite Missionary, we too have experienced being confronted by similar questions (and more!) while we went through the process of discerning “the call“.
Prayer is the most essential element of this process. The more we know the One who called us, the better we know ourselves and our vocation in life.
Feel free to explore the site. Here you can find real stories of real people who discovered the joy of being called to love God and His Church in a special way. You can get to know more about the Carmelite Missionaries-Philippine Province and connect to our vocation coordinators nearest you. You can also find in these pages, different vocation resources that may help you in your discernment.
Rest assured of our prayers for you as you seek and heed God’s will for your life.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favour on His lowly servant.” (Luke 1:46)
I am imperfect. I am aware of my weaknesses and limitations. This is the reason why like Mama Mary my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, for in His great mercy, God has looked with favour on me and called me for a special mission, to love and serve Him and my neighbours with undivided heart.
I am Sr. Ella Ann Flores Bantigue of Jesus, Carmelite Missionary. I was born in Batan, Aklan, Philippines. I am the sixth of eight children in our family. I have four sisters and three brothers.
I became an orphan of both parents at the age of 13. My mother died when I was six years old and my father followed her after seven years. Becoming an orphan at a young age was the most painful and difficult experience I have gone through. But this event in my life led me to anchor more my life in God through prayers. I never lose hope. I believe that God never abandoned my siblings and me. He cares for us and He loves us.
I was a fourth year high school student when I first heard the tiny voice within me calling me to serve God and give my life exclusively to Him. But my desire to finish my studies and help my siblings is stronger. So, I set aside or ignore the call and pursue my studies. I graduated in college with the degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Mathematics. Along the way, I am aware that God’s call keeps on haunting me.
I got a teaching job in a private school in our place and I enjoyed my teaching career. I received a good salary and I was able to support my younger siblings in their studies. I am happy with my family and friends. I felt so blessed and grateful to God for all that I have and had accomplished. Until one day, I asked myself, “What return can I make to the Lord for His goodness to me? This question made me aware once again of the tiny voice within me, calling me to serve God and give my heart to Him exclusively.
I still found it difficult to follow this voice within because I am still supporting my younger sister and brother in their studies. But on the third year of my teaching career I decided to say “YES” convinced that it is God who is calling me to leave everything and follow Him. It was not easy because my younger sister who has just graduated from college is still jobless and my younger brother is about to enrol in college. All my other siblings are already married and have a family to support. I felt guilty to leave them, thinking that they still need my help. Some of my siblings even doubted my motivations. They thought that I don’t want to help them anymore that is why I will enter the religious life. I just bore the pain of leaving them believing that God will take care of them.
In this difficult time, I found strength and consolation from the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew chapter 19 verse 29 that says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father and mother or children or fields for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” I hold on to these words of Jesus, and with deeper faith in Him, I followed Him.
I met the Carmelite Missionaries during their search-in in Aklan in August 2009. I attended their vocation workshop in October of the same year where I decided to join the Congregation. I entered the convent in June 2010.
When I saw the poster of the Carmelite Missionaries in the Parish where I attended the Sunday Mass, I was attracted first by the color of their habit. Of course it was only secondary. It is their life of prayer and mission which I felt answer my desire on how I can serve God and His people.
During the vocation workshop, we were given the opportunity to visit their communities in Iloilo. What attracted me most among their apostolate is their health care activity especially in the home for the elderly and with the children with special needs in Taiwan. And as a teacher, I found myself at home also with their apostolate in the school.
The hundredfold that Jesus promised is true. My younger brother was able to finish his studies even without my help. As time goes by my siblings were able to accept my decision to be a religious. I felt that they are also happy for me. And I am happy for all my siblings and the many blessings that we received from God. But first, I learned to embrace and love the cross that Jesus asked me to carry by bearing the difficulties I encountered in my journey, by denying myself and think always of what is good for others especially my sisters in the community. Religious life is not always happy but I always find it beautiful and meaningful as long as I always anchor my mind, my heart and my soul to God.
The journey is not always smooth sailing; in fact I made my perpetual profession of vows last May 9, 2020, giving my “Forever Yes” to Jesus in the midst of covid 19 pandemic. No one from my family was able to come because of the community quarantine. The only visitors we have was our Provincial Superior, Provincial Bursar and two Priests as our presider and homilist during the Holy Mass. Despite of this circumstance I felt so blessed and grateful to God for espousing me to Him amidst the pandemic. Indeed, when God calls someone to himself, He will also give that person the strength and courage to risk everything to follow His call. His grace is always sufficient.
I am grateful to our Father Founder Blessed Francisco Palau for interceding for me and for accepting me to be one of his daughters. Like him, I believe that, my heart was created to love and to serve God and my neighbours.