Sr. M. Matea Elizabeta
Praised be Jesus!
My name is Sr. M. Matea Elizabeta of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, and I am a juniorate Sister in the Croatian Province. I was born in Zadar on June 18, 1991, the youngest of three children. My father died in 1999 from lung cancer, and my mother remained at home alone with the three of us. It was a very difficult time in our lives, felt most of all by our mother who quietly fought to give us all we needed without murmuring or complaining.
I remember an image of St. Mother Therese of Calcutta with a boy from Africa that I saw on TV when I was nine years old. I was standing at the door of our living room, and I heard voice in my heart saying, “I want that.” Immediately came the counter-thought: “But, I can’t do that, because we are poor.” I think it was the first time God tugged on my heart.
During my college years, I worked and made good money from it. A short time before I finished college, God, in His infinite mercy, allowed me to experience the vanity of world. I started turning to Him, speaking to Him in prayer. Very soon that desire in my soul to go on mission to Africa returned. Meanwhile, I found new friends who talked to me about God and their relationship with Him. One time, my friend showed me a scapular and explained it to me. From that time on, I had a desire to wear one.
When I went with my parish on a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady in Croatia, Marija Bistrica, we stopped by to visit our Sisters in Hrvatski Leskovac. I knew then that they were not cloistered Carmelites, but, nonetheless, Carmel was always for me a place of rigidity and closure. My sister, who was with me, exclaimed, “I don’t know why, but I see you here.” I thought: “No chance! I am not worthy to be a religious.” I thought I could apply to work for “Doctors without Borders” or to work for hospice. My first move was to volunteer in Tanzania. Just before my trip to Tanzania, I went to Lourdes. There in the convent of the Carmelite nuns that is above the sanctuary, a Carmelite friar from Croatia put the scapular on us. After that pilgrimage, I went to Tanzania.
I realized in Tanzania that I can help people in many ways, but nonetheless something was missing…
Our Lord had already endured the shame of the cross for me, and yet I was afraid to cause him shame by becoming a religious. When I asked Him, “What do you want of me, my Lord?” I heard the answer deep in my heart, “I want you to serve Me and everyone around you.” And then I thought, “But I’m poor, I can’t do that.” … and it seemed to me at once that I already knew the answer. I realized- He is going to do it for me! Inwardly I agreed, but- where? On Good Shepherd Sunday, I went to a meeting. Next to me was a postulant with the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. Seeing the brown dress, I immediately rebelled: “Ah, no, no, Lord, I will not serve you as a Carmelite.” When I asked her which Congregation she belonged to, we started a conversation in which she talked about the apostolate and the mission of the Carmelite Sisters DCJ … and it became clear to me that this is where the Lord is calling me to serve. A few months later, I arrived at our convent in Hrvatski Leskovac.
Pull quote: “When I asked Him, “What do you want of me, my Lord?” I heard the answer deep in my heart, “I want you to serve Me and everyone around you.” And then I thought, “But I’m poor, I can’t do that.” … and it seemed to me at once that I already knew the answer. I realized- He is going to do it for me!”