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Sr. Celeste Engutan





When one maintains a direct line with our Shepherd-God day in and day out, one can’t find time to trace back how and when it all got started.  Perhaps only when one receives a deadline to submit one’s story.


If I connect my vocation story with a dream of becoming a Sister, I am faced with a blank wall.  I had no dreams about it and could never dream of it.  I was never a pious person and maybe even now.


Pre-Novitiate -
        September 14, 1985
Novitiate -
        September 14, 1986
First Profession of Vows -
        October 7, 1988
Final Profession of Vows -
         October 7, 1993
My own father, who wanted to be a priest and missionary, spent his life asking why his dream did not come to reality.  He got his answer only when he met his close friend and band mate Fr. Ramon Frutu, CSSR, who one of the presiders of my first Profession.  Fr. Frutu answered him, “Pete, of course, you will never become a priest no matter how good you are!  God wants a contemplative Sister from among your children.”  Only then, my Papa found his eternal peace months later.  My mother too is a great devotee of our Lady and is very faithful to all her feasts and the corresponding “attire” for the day un now in her seventies.  I was really very critical then to all their religious practices that very early stage of my life.  My childhood revealed such rebellion for rituals.  I wanted to play like other children but my elders want to pray all their novenas and rosaries.  Then one day I heard the couple talking “about me.”  They did not know I heard or was listening at the door.  The considered my behavior as a “problem.”  And they thought I was “irreligious” that “only God can take care of me!”  As I listened to the conversation, I recalled how curious I became about “WHO” this God is.  Could I come to believe in Him then?


Time came I made my first confession and received my First communion.  My religion teacher instructed us “to clean our hearts so that Jesus may enter in, otherwise, if He finds it dirty, He will abandon it.”  I was very good in our class but such a simple warning stuck the child in me.  Knowing how a naughty girl I was, I made my first promise to Jesus: “if He finds my heart not clean enough, please stay even then.  Do not abandon it.  He must stay to remind me that I still need some cleaning to do.”  I do believe that He stayed and I experienced “cloud 9” for the first time.  I know that “I belong to God.”  Well, I was only 6 years old and children easily forget their promises.  I went through the different stages of my physical and psychological life and I was always consulting matter with this Jesus in my heart for all my life’s decisions.


When it was time to enter religion, a dying FMM Sister refused to die yet until I visited her in her state of “coma.”  I only whispered to her to pray for me because I might become a Sister.  Tears fell from her eyes but I was informed the following day that she died after I left.  I suddenly remembered what she told me very long time ago.  “I never see death until you (myself) will enter religion.  She was already bedridden when I met her 5 years earlier so without doubts, I entered religious life.


When it unfolded to me that He wanted me to be a contemplative, I refused to be a Carmelite, because I know I cannot live without meat.  No also to the Pink Sisters because I never the “formal type.”  So the Shepherd-God delivered me “door-to- door” to the CGS.  I was invited at that time to give a talk to the Youth Group held at the RGS Banawa Seminar House.  While I was trying to gather my thoughts for the talk in their garden, God beckoned me to drop by the CGS.  Only later, I found out that the SVD Fathers were instrumental to this design.  My first profession of vows was my second experience of “cloud 9.”  I concluded that the God of my childhood is the same God Who wanted my friendship and intimacy.  Well, I though that silence and solitude, enclosure and a community of women would be instruments for my martyrdom because they looked so terrifying then.  However, they are the main instruments that nurtured the developing intimacy and mutual knowing and loving.  I am enjoying my life deeply and I am filled with ever deepening sense of gratitude for the gift of my vocation.  My most colorful ones are the recent ones.  The last 2 years as a missionary in Austria and my membership in the Prepcom for our coming General Assemble and Chapter 2003.  These are indeed colorful ones because they had special touches of darkness and difficulties.  Internationality has its own character and demands all-embracing zeal from our hearts.


I do believe that the details of God’s designs in my life are not yet revealed but I am convinced that He makes it always meaningful and worth living.  Recipient of His great compassion I felt He is making me a vessel in His hands so as to pour out compassion to our world.  My only motive in my one-year of active vocation promotion activity was to attract the young to be generous to be willing to become also other vessels for God’s compassion.


(Written in 2002)