My name is Victoria Nabil Helmi. I am Egyptian, originating from a poor Coptic-Catholic family living in village in Upper Egypt. I have a high school diploma in the sewing section and my hobbys are drawing and handicrafts.
After graduating from school I worked for a year in the kindergarten of our village because I love children. The sisters of Notre Dame de Sion living in our village know me well from the time I was a child and they also know my family. From the time I was young I used to think about being a sister but when I grew up I forgot this idea. But the Lord reminded me again about this idea with aÂ verse of the scripture saying:
â€œLeave everything and come and follow me.â€
Also the mission of the sisters in the village had an effect on me and so I again began to think about religious life.
Why did I choose to be a sister in the Congregation of â€œNotre Dame de Sionâ€?
- First of all, its not me who choose â€“ it was God who chose me!
- I want to belong to God only.
- I want to be the servant of others like Jesus. He was servant not for one person, or a particular family but for all people. Jesus lived among the people, eating with them, drinking with them, teaching them. He tried to pass on the message of his heavenly Father who had sent him:
â€œJust as the Son of Nan did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.â€œ Matthew 20:28.
- I am the kind of person who likes change and renewal. In the congregation there will be change from time to time, change in the place where I live, the community, the people, the ministryâ€¦. This makes me happy because there will be the chance to get to know different personalities, so I wonâ€™t be attached to one particular person and leave the others. Jesus served everyone, not just for some particular people, but for the whole world.
I asked for a sign from God in order to know if God had chosen me!!!!
The mentioned verse which is also the text of a hymn touched me very much: â€œLeave everything, come follow me and I will be your portionâ€. Mt 9:9 â€œAnd he said to him, Come follow me. So he got up and followed him.â€
So once I asked God to give me a sign if he really chose me personally to consecrate my life to him. The sign I asked for was to hear the word â€œGod is loveâ€ on a particular day. And in fact I did hear the word on that day I asked!
One day I was going with Sr. Juliana Baldinger to Minia. On the way we always drive by car, Sr. Juliana noticed the words â€œGod is loveâ€ for the first time written on the door of a small house. It was not very clear, but she said, â€œGod is loveâ€ and repeated it twice to emphasize it. â€œItâ€™s the first time I noticed this written thereâ€, she said. At that moment I remembered that I had asked the Lord to give me a sign in order to be sure I was chosen for this life. From this time I was sure and so I continued on this journey, because I was confident that God had chosen me.
My familyâ€™s reaction
One day I asked my grandmother, â€œWhat do you think about, if I become a religious sister?â€ She answered me: â€œDonâ€™t leave your mother alone!!â€
I asked my mother the same question and she answered: â€œNo habibti, donâ€™t leave me and go away because I wonâ€™t see you often and you will be far from me!â€
After that I asked my father and he told to: â€œYou are free, this is your responsibility, your future is for you to decide.â€ I said, â€œThank you Baba, you mean that on principle you agree, right?!â€ He said, â€œYou are free, itâ€™s your future!â€
From that time on I was very happy about my fatherâ€™s reaction, which gave me a strong push and courage to think about this subject again and to make a decision with enthusiasm and courage.
As for my sisters and brother, some were in agreement and some were against. But that wasnâ€™t the problem. The problem was being far away from them and how I would live with people that I donâ€™t know and who speak another language, etc. Also because I am the youngest of the family, very loved by all of them and very attached to my mother and father.
But then I had a very hard time when my grandmother was sick and needed special care. I loved her very much just like my mother because it was she who brought me up. She wanted peace for everyone and she taught me many things. It was during her sickness that I asked her about becoming a religious sister and she said, â€œDonâ€™t leave your motherâ€ and I said, â€œOkay.â€ But I was very sad for a whole year after she died.
I used to meet with Sr. Juliana once a week after I finished work at the kindergarten and she helped me to discover my call and to know to make a decision in my life. Then I decided to live with the sisters of â€œNotre Dame de Sionâ€ for a period of 3 months. The next step was to stay for one year. During this time I was working with the children with special needs in the kindergarten of Notre Dame de Sion in Berba. This was a beautiful experience but I needed more training in this field. During the same year I took English courses in Minia and also participated in the catechism lessons with the children every Friday.
I made a retreat being leaded by the same verse â€œLeave everything and follow me and I will be your portionâ€. An amazing thing happened to me! I was sleeping and when I woke up my lips were saying this verse. I was really astonished. After the retreat I made my decision on the basis of this verse, which stayed with me for a long time.
I decided to continue with the sisters and I lived for 3 years in Cairo with a new community, having different experiences. I was a volunteer in the School for the Deaf where I learned sign language to be able to work with the children. I did handicrafts with them which they liked very much because it was for them like relaxation between lessons. I was really happy with them and it was a wonderful experience. I lived with the sisters and learned many things from them.
I thank the Lord who chose me.