My Path to Sisterhood
By Sr. Ethyl Puno

Sr. Ethyl Puno was born in the Philippines, where she attended Catholic schools. Her call to become a sister began in grade school, where she admired how the sisters there were helping students. However at this young age, she did not know what this meant to her. She mentioned her feelings to her parents, who said to finish school, get a job, and get married.

In 1991 the family moved to the United States. Her father died after she finished college and it became her responsibility to take care of her younger sister and her mother. Sr. Puno’s profession at this time was occupational therapy, where she worked in the Houston School System with special-ed students. Sr. Puno also entertained the idea of marriage, however, for some reason it did not seem right. She became more restless, and started to think what it would be like to be a nun. In 2000 she read in her parish bulletin that she could meet with sisters to find out more. She kept putting this off at first. The she decided to attend, but did not register, feeling that gave her the opportunity to change her mind.

She showed up unannounced at the Houston convent, Villa de Matel, where she met Sr. Maureen Costello. Sister Costello said, “You are a surprise. Usually the surprises are the ones who stay.”

Later, Sr. Puno signed up for a Life Awareness weekend, where she attended with a friend, where she could find out more. After that weekend she felt she was now headed in the right direction. She visited congregations in Boston, San Antonio, and Houston. The decision on which congregation to join was difficult. She took her mother to some of the meetings, so her mother could see what this was all about. Sr. Puno also saw that her younger sister was ready to take care of their mother, and in 2003 she joined the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word as a an affiliate, and in the same year become a pre-novice.

She went to the Formation House in St. Louis where she took the first of her annual vows on July 16 th, 2006. Annual vows are repeated every five years (the minimum) however sisters are allowed to be in annual vows for as long as nine years. Annual vow status makes it easier for a sister to resign if she feels she is pursuing the wrong vocation. Resigning is more difficult to do after final vows.

Sr. Puno did not have to give up her occupational therapist career, however she felt she wanted to do something more closely related to what sisters do. Now she is pursuing clinical pastoral education, and is in hospital chaplain residency in Methodist Hospital.

In closing, Sr. Puno told the Serrans that wearing a habit. Habits are modeled after European dress of an earlier time. After Vatican II habits became optional. She said her habit is “What she does and who she is.”

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