When Ursuline Sister Michele Morek began planning a trip to visit her native New Mexico, Ursuline Sister Angela Fitzpatrick jumped at the chance to visit the Land of Enchantment for the first time.
Little did she know her trip would include a miraculous, Spirit-led adventure.
Sisters Michele and Angela left Kansas City, Kan., where they minister, on Aug. 30, 2017, to visit Ursuline Sister Sara Marie Gomez and two of Sister Michele’s cousins.
Sister Sara Marie and her sister, Melesia, wanted to take Sisters Michele and Angela to the Gomez family ranch. They stopped on the way at a Benedictine convent called Our Lady of the Desert, a retreat center in Gobernador Knob in northern New Mexico, not far from the Colorado border.
Sister Angela tells the rest of the story this way:
“Sister Sara wanted us to meet some of the Benedictine Sisters. No one was around. Sister Sara went to the chapel looking for a sister, I started wandering around.”
“I went to the back of this place and I saw this sister with her back to me. She was using a little spade, clearing a place to plant something. I said, ‘Hermana, Hermana,’ (‘Sister, Sister’) and got no response. I said ‘hello’ and she turned to look at me. I said, ‘I’m Sister Angela’ and she let out the biggest yell. ‘Sister Angela! Sister Angela!’
“I looked at her, she looked at me and said, ‘St. Gabriel, Father Dennis, Sister Angela. I am Le Doan!’
“It clicked. She was a young, single mother with four boys who came from Vietnam to St. Gabriel Parish in Kansas City, Mo., when I was there in the ‘80s.” (Sister Angela was pastoral associate at St. Gabriel from 1986-96.) “I started yelling, we hugged and kissed. We were so excited, we were making so much noise, the Mother Superior wondered. ‘what’s going on?’
Le Doan’s name is now Benedictine Sister Agnes. Sister Angela and the staff at St. Gabriel helped her get adjusted to the United States and made sure her boys received an education at St. Gabriel School.
“Her children are all grown,” Sister Angela said. “She’s been temporary professed for three years and now needs to decide if she will make her permanent vows. So, I have her in my prayers. She was always very devout, she came to Mass every day.”
“If I hadn’t come around the back and made contact with her, she would not have been allowed to come meet with us. It’s a somewhat cloistered community. It was such a shock and a wonderful surprise.
“We didn’t get a chance to visit very long, maybe 20 minutes. It was just a miracle that we connected again. She plants some of the flowers there, she gave me a lavender sachet she made.
I get goosebumps every time I tell someone about this. This was a Spirit-led adventure.”