KOTA KINABALU – Come July 9, the first Tambunan lass will make her final profession as a Daughter of St Paul at St Theresa’s Church Tambunan at 10 am.
Born on 1 June 1981, Laura is the youngest in a brood of six girls and two boys born to the late Robert Anggie and Catherine Philip Lassa of Tambunan. Being a true Tambunanite, she had her primary education at St Theresa Tambunan and secondary at St Martin Tampasak. She took her Form Six at AMC-KK and Business Studies (JPSM) in 2002. After her studies she took charge of the family store from 2002 to 2004. Below is her vocation story:
Since I was small I always wanted to become a Carmelite nun. It was because I was influenced by the story of St Therese of the Child Jesus. My desire to become a Carmelite nun developed when I was studying at AMC College and stayed with the Good Shepherd Sisters. Every morning I would faithfully attend Mass at the chapel of Mount Carmel and sat in the second row just to see the nuns. I promised myself that after finishing my Form Six, I would enter the Carmelite Order. I was very sure that I was called to be a Carmelite nun. But God had another plan for me.
When my sister Liza told me that she wanted to join the Daughters of St Paul, I reacted and told her to choose another congregation. I told her that the congregation is only selling books. Therefore, it would be a waste if she were to join them. She just smiled at me and told me that I had a wrong understanding about the Daughters of St Paul. She told me that their mission is more than that but I was certain that they were just simply sellers.
Every time Liza came back from the Daughters of St Paul or received a letter from the vocation directress, she would gladly share it with me. Sister Bibianah, then the vocation directress of the Daughters of St Paul, introduced her to the life of the Daughters of St Paul. From the sharings of my sister I began to know more about their mission which I found very interesting. I realised that their mission is to make Jesus Master known to the whole world using the modern means of social communications.
Liza told that in other countries the Daughters of St Paul are involved not only in book mission but also in radio and TV. They are also writers and editors. In short, they use all the tools of communication in their apostolate. I realised that in Malaysia they cannot fully exercise their apostolate because media are controlled. Gradually as I started to see the Daughters of St Paul positively, I would encourage my sister to join them.
When Liza graduated from Maktab Perguruan Kent, she told me that she felt her call was no longer with the Daughters of St Paul. She told me that since she has been trained as a teacher, she would like to enter a teaching congregation. I was shocked actually by her decision but I respected it. I remember asking her: “How will you tell Sr Bibianah about this matter when she is expecting you to join them?” She just smiled and told me that the congregation was not for her but maybe it was meant for me. I was actually struck by her words and somehow it made me uneasy.
Even though I started to feel attracted to the Daughters of St Paul, I just ignored my feeling. I still believe that I was called to be a Carmelite nun. I was very sure that God was calling me but the problem was I did not know which congregation to enter. I tried to make some research on the different congregations to help me in my choice. But the more I made research on the different congregations the more I was confused.
In my confusion I became more dependent on God’s grace as I constantly asked the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me. It took almost a year before my question was answered. I remember very well that day. I was cleaning the youth ministry room in my parish (St Theresa Tambunan). Suddenly some bookmarks fell on the floor. As I bent down to pick up the bookmarks I was struck by the text in those bookmarks: “I will fulfill my promise to make you mine,” and those bookmarks were the souvenirs of the first profession of three Daughters of St Paul. I took that experience as a sign from God showing where He was leading me. A week later, I went back to see the bookmarks which I arranged in the youth ministry room. But they were not there anymore. I asked some of the members if they saw the bookmarks but they said they did not. I stopped looking for the bookmarks and presumed that it was truly a sign from God that I would join the Daughters of St Paul.
During my initial formation years in the Philippines I was exposed to the different ways the Daughters of St Paul exercise their apostolate. There I was able to deepen my knowledge of the life and mission of the sisters. I also experienced living in a community where the members were from the different parts of the world. This experience made me understand the words of the Founder, Blessed James Alberione, who said, “Your parish is the world.” It means that as Daughters of St Paul we have to be universal in inclusive in our service.
Looking back at my vocation story, I realise that many times in our lives we believe that we are choosing the right path or doing the right thing. God so loves us that He respects our decision and freedom. At the same time He makes us aware of the beautiful path He wants us to take but allows us to make our own choices. God’s way indeed is a mystery because he let me discover my vocation through my sister. He used Liza to introduce me to the Daughters of St Paul.
Laura entered the Daughters of St Paul in 2005 and made her first profession in 2010. After her theological studies in the Philippines (2011-2015), she joined the international preparation course for final profession in Rome from Oct 2015 to May 2016.
For more information about the Daughters of St Paul, please visit https://fsp.paulines.ph