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‘I knew I wanted to be a Religious Sister’

Holy Faith Sister Juliet Rajah celebrated her 25th anniversary as a religious sister last Sunday with Holy Mass at St Theresa’s RC Church, Woodbrook. Archbishop Jason Gordon was the celebrant. Catholic News posed a few questions to the head of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office as the Archdiocese prepared for another Vocations Awareness Week.

Archbishop Jason Gordon and Sr Juliet Rajah at her anniversary Mass on Sunday, October 31 (2021)

Q: Tell us about Sr Juliet before she become a “Sister”? Where did you live, work? What was your life like?

I lived in Gonzales, Port of Spain. I worked with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce which later became Bank of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago Limited, now Republic Bank Limited, for 15 years. I enjoyed my time spent at the bank as I moved through the ranks starting as a teller to supervisor of Foreign Exchange. I enjoyed life, especially meeting different customers and staff throughout my banking career. On evenings, I visited the L’Hospice and Nazareth House where I chatted with and read to the residents. I also enjoyed travelling abroad during vacation times.

Q: Describe your family and how they helped lay the foundation for your Catholic faith/vocation?

I grew up in a household with my mother and father and six siblings. My parents were practising Catholics and very much involved in the life of the parish of St Martin de Porres RC Church in Gonzales. My siblings were all involved in the parish. For me, it was my second home. I served in every ministry from cleaning the church, to lector, catechist, finance, choir, fundraisers. I even found time to climb the bell tower!

Q: What signs along the way pointed you to vocation and when did you finally decide? Was there any struggle?

Since my First Communion I knew I wanted to be Religious Sister. As children, we played ‘Mass’ at home, and even then, I was playing a ‘nun’. I remember whilst at secondary school, we were asked to write an essay about where we saw ourselves in ten

years’ time. I clearly recall writing that after working for three years, I would enter the convent. I finally made a decision when I realised I had to choose between marriage and religious life. I knew in my heart I would regret if I did not at least explore religious life. In the end, I knew I had found my vocation in life.

Q: Share a few of the milestones of your 25 years? When were you appointed to the catechetical office?

I made my first profession on September 7, 1996. For me, it was a perpetual commitment. The joy I experienced was beyond words. I started work at the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office in 2002 as the Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator for the Northern Vicariate. In 2005, I completed the B Ed in Theology at the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs. I was invited by the Sisters to study for an MA in Religious Education at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. This experience was very enriching as I met students from all over the world.

Q: How have you changed over the years? Learnings?

The change I recognise in my own self is a deep inner peace in spite of the seeming chaos around me at times. I am also more able to integrate my life with prayer. I have learnt over the years to keep the bigger picture before me in all that I do.

Q: What are your other interests/hobbies/music etc.?

I enjoy reading; listening to songs of yesteryear: Natalie Cole ‘Someone I used to love’, Terry Jacks ‘Season in the Sun’, the Carpenters, Gilbert O’Sullivan ‘Seasons in the Sun’, Simon and Garfunkel ‘The Sound of Silence’, Kenny Rogers and the list goes on; gardening—vegetables, orchids, and Chinese bamboo; exercising with YouTube Leslie Sansone and watching TV.

Q: Why did you choose the Holy Faith Sisters?

I chose Holy Faith Sisters, firstly, because of the life of the foundress, Margaret Aylward. Her story made a deep impression on me as she struggled to preserve the faith. Secondly, the Sisters’ genuineness, light-heartedness and prayerfulness attracted me. Somehow, I felt at home with them. Thirdly, their commitment to education, faith development and work in social justice.