My name is Sr. Juanita Camacho Labato and I am a Good
Shepherd Sister from Guanajuato, Mexico. I am the second
youngest of five children, 3 sisters and 1 brother. I’m
not quite sure what provoked me to think about becoming
a sister but I feel that my family and parish environment
had a lot to do with it.
During my childhood, I witnessed my mother in her dedication
to serving those who were less fortunate and in particular
need. I grew up in a neighborhood in Guanajuato which
is very poor. My mother, a nurse, was very involved in
working with women in the neighborhood who were suffering
from various physical illnesses. My mother was also involved
in teaching people in poor rural areas first aid and catechism.
So service has always been a part of my experience. I
was taught, through the example of my mother, to care
for others. I was fortunate to sometimes accompany my
mother to these rural villages.
family was also very fortunate to be in a parish that
was vibrant and alive. There were about five priests and
seven or eight seminarians at my parish, La Compania de
Jesus. It is a Jesuit parish that is about two hundred
years old. There were young priests as well as older priests
there and they seemed so alive and happy. I think that
they really had an influence on me. That’s when
I began to think about religious life. I was 14 then.
CALL TO RELIGIOUS LIFE
age 17 I began to think about religious life again. I
decided to take a semester off from school. I would accompany
my mother who was visiting the sick. It was at this time
that I got to know Sr. Rose Virginia, a Good Shepherd
Sister. She invited me to attend a reflection group for
young girls who were trying to discover their place in
the world (their vocation). I did not feel obligated to
become a nun because I attended these meetings. In fact
the meetings were not focused on only becoming a sister,
but more importantly on discovering what it was that God
was calling you to do and to become.
was something about Good Shepherd I found myself being
drawn toward. I would visit the sisters during the summer
and on vacation. I wanted to know how they lived and what
they did. I found them to be women who lived in harmony
with one another, and who really loved what they did and
their life-style. They were so happy. I had many of my
best times when I was visiting them. There were 12 sisters
who ran a school for farmers children. I would pray with
them, go to the market with them and participate in their
sister in particular was a great help to me in my discernment
process regarding Good Shepherd. Sr. Aurora took an interest
in me, and my family. In my culture it is very important
to include the family in this process too. Sr. Aurora
was a very good listener. She helped me to get in touch
with my own deep desires. After two years of attending
the discernment meetings I felt like I really wanted to
find my place in this world. I wanted to commit myself
to something. I did not want to let life just go by. I
told Sr. Aurora all of this and she suggested that I participate
on a two week discernment retreat.
CALL GETS STRONGER
Sr. Aurora’s recommendation I participated in the
two-week vocation discernment retreat. This experience
was unforgettable. The focus was on ‘Where is God
calling you?’ We talked about the world reality
and learned that whatever your vocation in life, you need
to be part of the building up of God’s Kingdom.
This is everyone’s ultimate call. This really spoke
to my heart!
was during this retreat that I decided to enter Good Shepherd.
I put myself in God’s hands and was totally open
to whatever God wanted for me. I felt this time was so
special. A real gift. A desert experience. God led me
into the desert and it was there that God spoke to my
heart. I felt very free.
entering the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1992, I have
been involved in various ministries in Mexico as well
as in El Paso, Texas. As a Good Shepherd Sister our mission
is to follow after Jesus, the Good Shepherd ~ leaving
the 99 grazing on the hillside in search of the one in
Juanita made her final vows on January 11, 2020 in Guanajuato,
Mexico - her home town at Compania Parish.
Ellen Kelly, (left, above left) and Sr. Clare Nolan (left,
above right), of the New York Province, attended Sr. Juanita's
final vow ceremony.