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Students view ‘sketches’ of lives in service of the Church


BOYNTON BEACH  |  More than 460 sixth-graders and chaperones from 10 local Catholic schools visited St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary April 19 for a day of retreat. Besides enjoying the physical and spiritual riches that comprise the Boynton Beach seminary campus, it was an opportunity to take stock and reflect upon God’s plan for their lives.

The schools that participated were All Saints in Jupiter, St. Anastasia in Fort Pierce, St. Clare in North Palm Beach, St. Helen in Vero Beach, St. Joan of Arc in Boca Raton, St. Joseph in Stuart, St. Juliana and Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Sacred Heart in Lake Worth and St. Vincent Ferrer in Delray Beach.

Sponsored by the diocesan Office of Vocations and Seminarians, the annual retreat day featured tours of the 72-acre campus, time for Eucharistic adoration and lectio divina, Mass, separate vocations talks for boys and girls, and outdoor recreation. Leading the way were Father Daniel Daza-Jaller, director of vocations and seminarians, his staff and seminarians. The participants were welcomed by Father Alfredo Hernández, rector/president of the seminary and a priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach.  

Father Nick Zrallack, St. Clare’s parish administrator, who was ordained a priest four years ago, gave the vocations talk to boys, along with Jedidiah Preble, a diocesan seminarian. The girls heard from a panel of consecrated women about life as a sister.

Sister Jadwiga Drapala, diocesan coordinator of women’s vocations and episcopal delegate for religious women and men, led the vocations talks for girls. With her were Sister Ann Dailey of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, who works at the Lourdes Noreen McKeen Residence in West Palm Beach; Sister Elizabeth Halaj of the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, from St. Vincent Ferrer Parish and School; and Sisters Marisa and Myriam of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who work in the Archdiocese of Miami. Sisters Anita Gabarczyk and Martina Bednarz, Sister Drapala’s fellow members of the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ, served as chaperones for students from St. Joseph School in Stuart.

Each of the sisters gave brief sketches of their journey to consecrated life. Sister Drapala explained to the students that God has a dream for their lives to make them happy and successful. “Some of us, very few of us, are called to be religious sisters. The majority of women are called to be wives and moms, to take care of their families and bring them together to Jesus in heaven,” she said.

Explaining to the girls that they would have a chance to ask questions at the end of the retreat, Sister Drapala asked them to be good friends and allow each other to be open and honest.  

“When you raise your hand and ask, this is a sign that you are a brave woman because you are not afraid, and second, you are helping every girl that will be in the chapel,” she said. “The majority of the girls will have the same question that you will have. They are just not brave enough to ask.”

Picking up on that theme, Sister Myriam, who grew up in Florida and works in campus ministry at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in Miami, spoke about the concerns she felt about becoming a sister, which was counter to her plan to be a missionary physician.  

“It was like a tug of war was going on in my heart,” she said. “So, one day I had the courage to ask Jesus a question. I realized I had always asked him for help with my plans, but I had never actually asked him what his plan was. ‘Jesus, help me get good grades.’ ‘Jesus, help me get into good schools.’ But I forgot to ask, ‘Jesus, what do you want for me?’”

Sister Myriam continued: “So, one day I was in the chapel and I was praying and God gave me courage. Sister Jadwiga was talking about being brave. You have to be brave to be a sister. And I said, ‘Jesus, do you want me to be a doctor?’ I didn’t hear anything with my ears, but in my heart — in the quiet of my heart, where God speaks — he said, ‘I have bigger plans for you.’”

After telling someone that she was thinking about becoming a sister, her friend asked a good question, Sister Myriam said. “She said, if right now you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was asking you to be married, what would your reaction be? And it just totally flipped my perspective around. I said, ‘You know what? Honestly, I’d be really relieved. I could have a normal life and a normal family and a normal job. But honestly, I would be really disappointed.’ And it was in that moment that I knew.”

After entering the convent, studying and praying for several years, Sister Myriam said she “professed my wedding vows to Jesus. I promised to be his bride and to be faithful to him. And it’s been the best story ever. His plans are so much better than ours. So, have courage. Ask the questions, and just have courage that he’s going to make you happy with whatever his answer is.”

She told the girls, “When you say yes to God, it’s the greatest love story ever.”

For information on vocations to the priesthood and religious life, contact Father Daza-Jaller at 561-775-9552 or, by visiting or following the office on Facebook and Instagram.

Click here for pictures and to read this on the Florida Catholic.