Meet Sister Bea Tiboldi
That’s an unusual name. Where were you born?
In Budapest, Hungary.
Do you miss it?
Those of us who were born in another country can visit our country every three years. However, nowadays with Facetime, Facebook, and Skype, it’s easy to “visit” more frequently.
Did you go to school in Hungary or in the USA?
In Hungary, I earned degrees in teaching, religious education, and computer programming. In the USA, I earned a Master’s Degree in Education, a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies, and Master/Advanced Catechist Certificates in three dioceses.
Why would someone choose to live a vowed religious life nowadays?
It’s really a call… a call from God. I just chose to respond to it. God nudges you in a direction until you discover what your call is. I tried to ignore the call at first, but then it just got “louder;” it kept bugging me until I did something about it. If you hear/feel God’s call, give it a chance and see where it takes you.
How did you know you were following God’s call?
The more I prayed about the call, I was less and less restless. I was filled with peace and, at the same time, I felt more alive.
Did you have to give up your job?
When I moved into the community, I was encouraged to do something similar to what I used to do so that I wouldn’t have too many new things going on, allowing myself to focus more on discernment. First, I was a teacher, but at a different school from the one at which I taught before I moved into the community. Once I adjusted to praying communally, following daily routines, and living in community, I was more open and ready to be missioned to where the greater needs were. I studied the ministry I was about to undertake, which was pastoral ministry, and I loved it. Since then, the needs of the community have led me to vocation outreach ministry, which I love also.
How do you feel about going where the greater need is?
I love the idea. In a sense, I signed up for this. The vow of obedience helps me to be attentive to God and the needs of the world. The vow of celibacy avails me to be open to go wherever the needs are (without having to worry about leaving my family behind.) When I entered, I was a teacher. Later, I became a Pastoral Associate, and now I am a Vocation Outreach Minister. I’m also up for an adventure. For example, as part of the St. Bernard Project, we helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I learned how to tape, mud, and sand indoor walls, and how to paint outdoor shingles as well. The help was very much needed and was fun as well.
Do you ever get tired of being a Sister?
Never. It’s never boring. It challenges me to do something about my baptismal call, and at the same time, it fills me with great joy. I might get physically tired at the end of the day, but the life of prayer, the peace-making mission, and the joy of community life keep boosting my energy level.
What does your schedule look like?
Instead of going into an hour-by-hour schedule, I would just describe my schedule as a cycle of prayer-study-prayer-community-ministry-prayer. We start the day with God in prayer. Then, we study the news, the needs of our time and the needs of the people we serve, etc. We bring all of these and all our daily concerns to prayer/contemplation, sharing the outcome (fruits of our contemplation) with one another on the Vocation team that I’m part of, or with the community at home, and then we decide communally how to respond to the needs (ministry) with the love of God, and the cycle continues.
That sounds like a lot of work. Do you ever get time to relax?
Yes. Dominican spirituality has four “pillars”: prayer, study, community, and ministry. We strive to live a life that is balanced. I look forward to our evenings when we gather together around the table, share a meal, share stories, laugh together, and then we either have a longer conversation, or watch something together on TV, or play a game. On weekends, I like walking in a park, playing Pictionary, Scrabble or Rummikub, playing mini-golf, or having a “me” day – spending a day in quiet prayer/reflection.
What do you think about the future of religious life?
Religious life is a conscious choice to respond to God’s apostolic call. God needs us and society needs our way of life. Just like it has been, it is and will be: we are driven by mission. Our life? Similarly, our life is rooted in God and nurtured by God in community. We tap into the uneasiness of this world, contemplate it, and then respond with God’s love. Community might look a bit different, but at the core, it will still rely on mutual dependence, relying on one another by recognizing God in our members, sharing faith together, encouraging one another, and working for the common good to carry out the mission. We stand on the shoulders of the past, and we allow God’s Spirit and our Dominican charism to guide us today and in the future. Our congregational motto is: “Be peace. Build peace. Preach peace.” I wish to be part of that future with joyful hope for a more peaceful and compassionate world where God’s love prevails.
“Praise, glory and wisdom, thanksgiving, honor and thanks be to our God most holy, now and forever. Amen.” (Dominican Praise)