The Alimangohan Family: Part One
Meet the Penrith family with two daughters in their early twenties who are becoming brides of Christ.
In 2012 and 2013, Sr John Mary and Sr Maria Faustina of the Alimangohan family joined the Sisters of the Immaculata, a Catholic religious order.
They are far from being black sheep because this family is a powerhouse of faith and mercy.
“We’re a huge mess but we don’t settle,” Sarah Alimangohan, 23, said.
“Mum and Dad still go on dates and they sit in front of the Eucharist. They grapple with their weakness in front of Jesus, this is what makes the family grow.”
Parents Liza and Arnel emphasised their family’s journey of faith has had its challenges.
“But no matter what kind of family you have, what kind of brokenness you have, love will always conquer all,” Liza said.
Liza long harboured an intuition that her children would have religious vocations.
When Sr Maria Faustina first broached the topic with Liza, she inspired her mother by saying, “Mum, I want to give the prime of my life to the Lord.”
“I will not say I didn’t cry! I cried right after,” Liza said. “Not because I am afraid but I will miss them.”
“All the time I feel I am just a steward of God’s blessing, so whatever God wills for them, so be it.”
Arnel, their father, was less prepared and shook his head with a small smile.
Despite giving his children experience of Catholic charismatic movements, he had not expected one of his children would become a religious.
Then Sr John Mary expressed interest in joining the Sisters of the Immaculata.
“Oh, God is taking all my daughters, one by one,” he thought.
“Because I am in a relationship with the Lord, I asked myself, who am I? Who is their real father? The Father in Heaven.”
Seeing their joy confirmed their path contained all he could hope for as a father.
Liza recalls Sr John Mary saying “I will just say ‘yes’ but leave it to the Lord where he leads me.”
Older sister Lynell thought Sr John Mary was joking when she announced her decision. “I was surprised and she only gave us two weeks notice!”
Sarah calmly accepted her twin’s vocation and has had fun when people confuse the two of them. One of Sarah’s colleagues once crossed paths with Sr Maria wearing her habit. Deeply perplexed, he asked why Sarah wore such unusual outfits.
20-year-old Raphael is the youngest and could see the seeds of a religious vocation forming in his sisters.
“When Sr John Mary was young, she would say ‘I want to be a saint’ ‘I want to be a saint’,” Raphael said.
The Alimangohan Family: Part Two will be published tomorrow.