Sister Stories

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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.

My 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.

The Call To Religious Life
At 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.

Good Shepherd
There 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 life.

One 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.

The Call Gets Stronger
On 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!

It 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.

Sr. Juanita Today
Since 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 need.

Sr. Juanita made her final vows on January 11, 2020 in Guanajuato, Mexico - her home town at Compania Parish.

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