Serving with Sisters: Candice Punzalan, serving with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart

Throughout National Catholic Sisters Week, Catholic Volunteer Network will share interviews and reflections from volunteers currently serving alongside sisters. In each post you will hear a little more about how the volunteers found their program and what they’ve learned from the sisters they work with. Today we feature Candice Punzalan from Fullerton, California, a graduate of California State University, and Serving with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.
     Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25: 37-40).

Sharing a roof and a common mission of serving others with eight other young ladies under the guidance of the Carmelite Sisters taught me that service rendered to others – while not always easy – is always service done directly for the Lord. The two weeks I lived with the Sisters unfortunately coincided with an emotionally tumultuous time in my life at home, so it was difficult for me to think of giving myself as a gift to others when I personally felt heavyhearted, insecure, and out of place. I yearned for the scheduled moments of silent prayer when I could sit still in His consoling presence. 

Thanks be to God, I started noticing His presence outside of the church walls during the hours of apostolic activity. He was in the elderly people whose wheelchairs we pushed. He was in the young schoolchildren whose lives at home were less than ideal. He was in the women I was living with. I started seeing the face of the wounded Christ in those who were suffering. What I learned during my experience of living and serving with the Carmelite Sisters is that when I see the Lord upon His throne in glory, it won’t be my first time seeing Him. I will have seen Christ in every wounded individual I feed, clothe, or visit during this earthly life.

To learn more about CVN’s From Service to Sisterhood initiative and discernment resources for volunteers, please click here

More information about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles and their volunteer opportunities can be found here

For more information about National Catholic Sisters Week, including details about events taking place all over the U.S. please click here

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