Christina's providential journey to sisterhood
By Ana María Sanchez, A.C.D.P.
In college, Christina Cńe Chávez had this continual question in the back of her head: “Be a nun.” She shrugged it off and continued on with college education because she didn’t think she could fit the women religious “mold.” Much like our Blessed Mother, she kept it to herself and allowed what she now recognizes as Providence to guide her. But this trust in God also required her to take action: inquire, accept, and visit a convent. As she jokingly asserts: “They are not going to keep you there against your will, so why not go?” The following is a recap of her journey that has led her to enter the Congregation of Divine Providence Novitiate and become Sister Christina Cńe Chávez, C.P.D..
Christina is from Crane, Texas and while in high school participated in UIL academic competitions and excelled in the math and science divisions. As a teenager she participated in band, various sports, and served as Student Council President. This full and successful resume afforded her acceptance into Texas Tech University in 2008. She started with a desire to become a Doctor, so she declared herself as a Biology major with a Chemistry minor.
She attended a Raider Awakening with the desire to deepen her Catholicism. She then joined the Awakening staff which facilitated conversations with sisters from various congregations, priests, and married couples about their respective vocations. This ministry opened her eyes and heart to some possibilities, including becoming a woman religious.
Following a junior-year study abroad in Spain, she decided to change her major to Spanish with English as her minor to more fully reflect her renewed missionary heart.
As graduation drew near Christina began to fear the unknown and questioned the degree she was soon to earn. After all, how was majoring in Spanish going to help her do the many things that were in her heart? Teaching was the obvious choice but she felt she wanted more. During her grandmother’s funeral Mass, her once suppressed calling to religious life re-surfaced and urged her to research “how to become a nun.” Later that night, Christina googled it from her cell phone and found the National Religious Vocation Conference’s VISION Vocation Match website. This provided ample information and contact with religious congregations around the country.
After landing a job at a bank, she accidentally (providentially) stumbled upon a brochure entitled, “What’s Your Next Step,” she went to cdptexas.org, clicked on “Become a Sister” and emailed the Congregation of Divine Providence.
She communicated with Sister Elsa Garcia, the outgoing C.D.P. Vocations Director and the new C.D.P. Vocations Director, Sister Joyce Detzel, and was able to meet the two for dinner in Midland, Texas. It was a great relief to Christina to meet two women religious with whom she could relate. Christina had been feeling self-conscious about “being good enough” to enter religious life. These sisters dressed conventionally, used iPhones, and most important were down to earth. If Sister Elsa could continue being her “non-boring” self for 30 years as a C.P.D., then it was worth looking into. Christina accepted the invitation to visit the Congregation of Divine Providence.
She enjoyed the openness and lack of pressure that prevailed during her first three visits to the convent and became an Affiliate in 2013. Shortly after in 2014, she moved to the convent as a Resident Affiliate. This would allow her to live in community with a group of Sisters and time to discern her call to becoming a Sister of Divine Providence. Her closest friends and immediate family’s responses to her decision confirmed what was in her heart. Only the reality of educational debt remained a barrier to her next step.
As continued proof of Providence in her life, the Congregation of Divine Providence was awarded a grant through the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV) to assist in paying Christina’s college loans. The NFCRV was established by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) through the assistance of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and others to address the challenge of educational debt to religious life.
On Sept. 20, 2015, Christina “knocked on the door” of Our Lady of the Lake Convent and became a pre-Novice of the Congregation of Divine Providence. Continued prayer and discernment led to her entrance into the C.D.P. Novitiate on July 31, 2016 during a simple and private ritual in the presence of her parents, brother, and fellow Sisters of Divine Providence.
This first canonical year of Novitiate will allow Sister Christina to continue deepening and developing her relationship with Jesus. She will also discern her role as a Christian disciple and “her potential for living the charism of the Sisters of Divine Providence.” Her most profound confirmation came when she discovered as she was writing her autobiography how Providence has been present every step of the way. Sister Christina is grateful that she took the step of looking into religious life… it’s simply an email or phone call away!
Scenes from Sister Christina Chavez, C.D.P.'s
entrance ceremony into the novitiate of the Congregation of Divine Providence on July 31, 2016.
Newly minted novice Sister Christina wears the medal of the Congregation's founder, Blessed John Martin Moye.
Sister Ann Petrus, C.D.P., Superior General, welcomes Christina as a member of the congregation and presents her with the founder's medal and copy of the CDP Constitution.
Sister Christina with her parents, brother, and Sister Ann Petrus.