Sr Monica Tauili’ili, CB, made her final profession as a Sister of the Community of Beatitudes on March 25 at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Christchurch.
At the Mass of Perpetual Profession, St Therese de Jesus Assémat, the local superior of the sisters’ branch of the Community of the Beatitudes in New Zealand, related that Sr Monica wanted to be “a rebel and a cool kid” when she (Sr Monica) was young to escape her protective family.
“At a young age, she tried to break free from the house by joining the Legion of Mary to gain some independence, only to be told that she would have to wait until her ninth birthday after her first Communion,” Sr Therese said, which the congregation found amusing.
Sr Monica came from a devout Samoan Catholic family, and grew up praying the rosary and going to Mass daily.
Her parish gave her cultural immersion with the Cook Island and Samoan communities.
She also looked after her maternal grandmother in Samoa, in between academic studies and work. Her grandmother was the first to encourage her to consider religious life.
After her grandmother passed away, Sr Monica contacted the Carmelites, who gave her a copy of The Story of a Soul by St Therese of Lisieux.
She also considered the Tyburn Benedictines, the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s religious order), as well as the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master.
It was Fr John Jolliffe, SM, her spiritual mentor, who suggested that she look into the Beatitudes, shortly after the World Youth Day 2008.
Sr Monica entered the community in 2014, arriving on foot after hitch-hiking the last leg of her journey.
Sr Therese told of Sr Monica’s trip, saying that a storm held up Sr Monica’s companions and car at the ferry.
“She set off alone to try to make it in time for the Easter ceremonies. She finally arrived on Good Friday, just in time for the 3 o’clock service. The Lord was teaching her step-by-step to abandon all things, and cling only to the cross,” Sr Therese said.
Sr Therese said it was in France where Sr Monica truly fell in love with the community.
“For Monica, family and village life have always had a central importance, and she discovered that joining the community was, in fact, passing to another family and village culture,” Sr Emilie said. “The seeds of being one body of community life were already sown and nurtured from a young age in their natural family, for which she will ever be grateful.”
Sr Monica took on the religious name Sr Giovanna Maria of the Holy Eucharist. The principal celebrant at the Mass was Fr Joliffe, and the Community of the Beatitudes regional superior, Sr Theresia Schuschnigg, CB, took Sr Monica’s perpetual vows.