Don't Let Go of your Dream

By Sr. Leonor Montiel, MM

Sister Leonor (Len) Montiel of Romblon is off to Cambodia to join the Maryknoll and to fulfill her dream.

My name is Maria Leonor Montiel and I was born in Looc, Romblon on December 30, 1970, the youngest of the two sons and five daughters of Lucy and Juanito G. Montiel.

After my graduation at the Ateneo, I work with Vietnamese Refugees as a teacher for one year at the Philippines Refugee Processing Center at Bataan Working with the Vietnamese refugees made me race how rich each of our cultures is, as well as the fact the no one culture is perfect.

Following this I worked at the Women’s Desk of the Institute of Social Order in Quezon City. At the same time I was trying to discern my vocation. Every time I went to the Church, I checked out the bulletin boards for vocations ads of religious communities. There were quite a few, but none seemed to attract me. Then one day in St. Joseph’s Church in Quezon City. I saw an ad inviting women to a search-in with Marykoll sisters. The posters invited women to share in a “multi-cultural community engaging in cross-cultural missions, building bridges and healing a broken world.” The challenge caught my attention, so I kept the telephone number. Weeks after the search-in dates had passed, I called the number. They were out so I left a message, then I received a call from Sister Mary Grenough, MM,.” Have you ever met a Maryknoll Sister? Do you have an idea what we look like? “No, I haven’t met one yet but I guess, like most nuns in the Philippines, Maryknoll Sister wearing a habit.” She invited me to visit them and suggested that I was in for a surprise. “Surprised, I was but a pleasant one. The nun who opened the gate at the Burgos House in Quezon City, Sister Nenita Tapia was wearing a duster (loose house dress) and I could see her hair, she had no veil, and do also everyone else in the house, I was invited to join the prayers and supper, and I was again pleasantly surprised that there was a normal, relaxed conversations, spiced with jokes and laughter, at the table. I didn’t feel like a stranger on my first visit, I felt at home. So I kept on coming back ‘home’ to Maryknoll.”

When asked why I wanted to be a Maryknoll Sister, I say: “Jesus said He came to set the captives free, liberate the oppressed, and to let the blind see. I really believe this; these are my ideals too: a world where every creatures is respected and has its own place, where peace, justice and equality reign, but growing up in the world of cynicism, commercialism, capitalism, I thought these ideals would remain just like that, ideals, nice words, good concepts. That for me to survive in the world, I would have to join the rest of the crowd and let go of my dreams until I met people like the Maryknoll Sisters. Maryknoll allows me not only to continue but to make that dream a reality, no matter how slow the process.”