With an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Minnesota and a new job in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Sister Maria Francisco Molina, now a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, said she had everything she could have wanted as a recent college graduate. But she noticed there was still something missing.

“When I was about to graduate, I realized I had everything everyone ever told me I needed to be happy, and it wasn’t enough,” she said. 

In her search for something more, a woman approached Sister Maria Francisco after daily Mass one day, grabbed her by the arm and asked her if she wanted to be an actress. Surprised and stunned by the question, Sister Maria Francisco responded that she hadn’t considered becoming an actress before. The woman replied, “You’d make the perfect nun.” 

The woman was working on a vocations movie and seeing Sister Maria Francisco regularly attend daily Mass, thought she would be great for the film. This was one of the first times the thought of religious life entered her mind.

“I didn’t really know about religious life,” Sister Maria Francisco said. “But the thought never went away.” 

After moving to Kalamazoo for her first job, Sister Maria Francisco decided to give God one year while she discerned a vocation, and later one night in Eucharistic Adoration, she prayed, “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll do it.” 

“Be my Bride,” she heard. 

Sister Maria Francisco said at the time she wasn’t familiar with the reference of a religious sister as a bride of Christ, but after visiting the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist at their motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a discernment weekend, she asked for application papers, applied, and was accepted to join the community.

For her, she says, seeing the sisters with a “whole life built around the Eucharist” made religious life appealing. 

“Their peace and joy was so attractive,” she said. 

Sister Maria Francisco Molina, now a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, plays Frisbee with other sisters who are studying at The Catholic University of America. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

After just a few years in the order, Sister Maria Francisco said she couldn’t be happier. 

“Every day just gets a little better,” she said. “In the world, I always thought I’d be happy when I had (this or that). I was always pursuing happiness, but never really being happy in the present. Ever since I entered, I’ve been present in the moment.”

Sister Maria Francisco joined the community in Ann Arbor in the summer of 2016. Because the Dominicans are a teaching order, she said, all sisters work toward a teaching certification, and sisters from their community are sent out throughout the country to teach in schools. 

Sister Maria Francisco, who is currently a religious in residence at The Catholic University of America, is studying to get her master’s degree in secondary education to teach high school math. Along with five other sisters, she lives in the women’s dorms as a “witness of religious life to students,” she said. In addition, she and the other sisters from her community studying at Catholic University help with campus ministry there. 

“Our main goal is to live out our lives and be faithful to our prayers and community, along with (an) apostolate with students,” she said. 

The sisters still maintain their prayers and build community among one another through recreation during their studies. Recreation ranges anywhere from just spending time with one another to playing games outside, such as Frisbee. 

“We still live our regular monastic life, and since all our school schedules are different, our recreation times are sometimes odd -- really early morning or late at night,” she said. “But our prayers don’t change.” 

During their morning Holy Hour, Sister Maria Francisco said she is always surprised by how many students join. 

“It’s really neat to have them there and to pray with them,” she said. “Different sisters use different talents to relate to the students… Each sister has their gifts that they bring that they can relate to. God is using each one of us.”

For young women open to Christ’s call to the religious life, Sister Maria Francisco said, “Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. It’s not like He is trying to hide your vocation. He is the one who wants you to know it the most.” 

She also said to practice saying “yes” in the present moment. 

“When God wants you to say ‘yes’,” she said. “It’s a lot easier for you to say ‘yes’ to your vocation when you’ve been practicing.

“He knows what will make you happy, and He will never disappoint you,” she said.