Sister Teresa Paul Selamat professes perpetual vows as a Franciscan

As Sister Agnes Joseph Williams looks on, Sister Teresa Paul Selamat professes her perpetual vows with The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Accepting her vows is Sister Judith Ann Duvall, major superior of the Franciscan community. (Provided photo)

EAST PEORIA — Sister Teresa Paul Selamat, OSF, never saw the logic of religious life. It didn’t make sense to her on that level.

Fortunately, God spoke to her heart and that’s where she heard him calling her to a vocation with The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. On Aug. 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, she professed perpetual vows with the community during a Mass in the motherhouse chapel.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, major superior, accepted her vows in the name of the church.

Sister Teresa Paul Selamat, OSF, (center) professed perpetual vows with The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis on Aug. 6. With her (from left) are Father Paul Joseph Langevin, OFM Conv.; Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, major superior; Sister Agnes Joseph Williams, OSF; and Father Giles Gilbert, OFM Conv. (Provided photo)

Among the concelebrants for the Mass were Conventual Franciscan Fathers Paul Joseph Langevin and Giles Gilbert of Holy Family Church in Peoria, and current and former chaplains of OSF HealthCare facilities in central Illinois. The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis own and operate OSF HealthCare and Sister Teresa Paul ministers in the Mission Services Department of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

In the days prior to the celebration, Sister Teresa Paul, 48, said she was excited and happy, and marveled at how fast the seven years of formation and temporary profession went.

“There are a lot of things we do that keep me really busy,” she said with a laugh.

That includes sharing with employees or “mission partners” what makes OSF HealthCare different from other health care systems.

“Since the community is so small — there are about 20 of us now — and the apostolate is so big, we want to make sure our mission partners are working with us and understanding the mission of the Sisters and not forgetting what it’s all about,” Sister Teresa Paul said. “It’s the work of God, not the Sisters.”

BE READY, OPEN

When Sister Teresa Paul first considered life with The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, she wondered what part she would be able to play in that mission. Trained in fashion design and graphic arts, she couldn’t see herself in a hospital setting.

Sister Agnes Joseph Williams, OSF, then vocations director for the community, shared that she didn’t have clinical experience, either. “So let God decide what you’re going to do here,” she advised.

Sister Agnes Joseph also encouraged her to visit other religious communities so she could see where she felt at home.

The former Paula Selamat was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and came to the United States to study fashion and pattern design at the University of North Texas. She would go on the live in Los Angeles and Denver.

“God wants the best thing for us — how can you not want to follow him?” Sister Teresa Paul Selamat, OSF

While she was raised Catholic, Sister Teresa Paul hadn’t really considered religious life, even though she found herself asking priests and women religious how they knew they were called to their vocations. One of them told her, “I just love Jesus.”

“The way she said it made me think. I said to myself, ‘I think I love Jesus, too, but I don’t think I have the kind of love she does,’” Sister Teresa Paul told The Catholic Post. “But it made me think a little more about what kind of love I actually had for Jesus, for God.”

Daily Mass and regular eucharistic adoration deepened that relationship. As she started to discern religious life, her spiritual director told her God was not going to give her a neon sign.

“I think God wants you to have faith in him,” the priest said. “When you know it is your call, you should follow him.”

That’s when Sister Teresa Paul started noticing “little arrows” pointing in the same direction. She liked the prayer life and community life of the Franciscan community in East Peoria and said their togetherness was important for her.

“God wants the best thing for us — how can you not want to follow him,” she said.

Sister Teresa Paul encouraged others to “be ready for God’s surprise and be open to it. If you listen, anything is possible.”

“Hold on. He will carry you to a place that is incredible,” she said.

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