Nun shares her vocational joy with youths in Southern Tier - Catholic Courier
People kneel before the Eucharist.

Sister Elfie Del Rosario invited three teens from All Saints Parish’s youth-ministry program to kneel before the Eucharist during adoration at St. Mary Church in Corning April 12. (Photo courtesy of Erin Perry)

Nun shares her vocational joy with youths in Southern Tier

Sister Elfie Del Rosario, FMA, exudes joy when talking about her religious vocation — a joy she strives to instill in others.

“Truly in my heart, I know this immense love and mercy that I receive from Christ. I am truly grateful, and because of this, I cannot help myself to express this,” Sister Del Rosario told the Catholic Courier.

The nun was the guest of honor April 12 at Corning’s All Saints Parish, where she gave a presentation for teens on vocational discernment and growing in their personal prayer lives. Earlier that day, she spoke at a student retreat at Elmira Notre Dame High School.

Sister Del Rosario is a member of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, also known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. That’s the same religious order to which a Corning native Sister Mary Jackson has belonged since 2003.

Sister Del Rosario’s appearance in Corning — which also included leading participants in adoration — was organized by All Saints’ youth-ministry team as part of its ongoing emphasis on promoting vocations. According to Erin Perry, a parent and organizer, approximately 20 teens and 10 adults attended.

“I think the teens all connected with her right away,” Perry said of Sister Del Rosario. “I think we were all blessed by her visit.”

Woman religious known as ‘The Happy Nun’ encourages Corning, Elmira youths

Sister Del Rosario is a native of Nigeria who was raised in the Philippines. She eventually relocated to New Jersey and used her psychology degree to teach special-needs children.

She entered the Salesian Sisters — an order dedicated to evangelizing and educating young people — in 2009 and made her perpetual vows in 2020. Currently, she is vocations director of the congregation’s Eastern Province of St. Joseph as well as provincial director of the order’s Volunteers in Development, Education and Solidarity (VIDES) program, an international missionary initiative. She is based in Haledon, N.J.

Sister Del Rosario is known widely as “The Happy Nun.” In her presentations, she said, she encourages young people to remain open to a vocational call by immersing themselves in the sacraments and asking the Holy Spirit to guide them. She also stresses the importance of actively exploring the religious life — for example, contacting and visiting seminaries and religious orders.

“God is calling us to action, but the Lord cannot fulfill all of these things if we don’t respond to him. You have to claim it and own it,” she stated.

Sister Del Rosario exhorts all young people to develop prayer lives that reflects a growing relationship with God; to go out of their comfort zones and not be afraid to serve Christ and others; and to “surround themselves with holy friendships,” she said. In addition, while addressing Elmira Notre Dame students, she encouraged them to persevere through the personal battles they face, noting that several saints did likewise and went on to perform such exemplary ministry that they became canonized.

Southern Tier parish engages in several initiatives to enhance vocations awareness

During her visit to the Southern Tier, Sister Del Rosario had dinner with the family of Sister Jackson, who made her perpetual vows as a Salesian in 2012 and is currently the principal of St. Anthony School in Hawthorne, N.J. In 1995, Sister Jackson — then 16 — was featured in a Courier story in which she detailed the strong calling she’d experienced the previous fall on a teen retreat.

Might other vocations such as Sister Jackson’s emerge from the Tier? Perry said that’s the aim of All Saints’ youth-ministry team, which promotes vocations awareness and discernment along with social activities and community service. She noted that Father Matthew Walter, All Saints’ first-year parochial administrator, conducts monthly talks with the teens on vocations and other faith topics and also leads them in adoration. Perry added that a number of youths recently attended a retreat at the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Ohio, and that the youth-ministry team hopes to schedule a visit from the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth in Pennsylvania.

Perry said the committee comprises several parents, including her husband, Benjamin: “It’s a really nice collaborative effort.” She noted that members are eager to share resources and ideas with other parishes in the Rochester Diocese regarding vocations and other future life choices for youths.

“My big concern is that my kids have enough understanding of their faith, that when they’re on their own they can carry it forward and not be afraid to be a public witness,” said Perry, who with her husband has three children ages 15, 12 and 9.

Tags: Chemung County News, Religious Orders, Steuben County News
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