By Sister Kathleen Leary, S.S.J.
Special to The CS&T

For Sister Christine Ma, M.S.B.T., to live the charism of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Trinity, “Preservation of the Faith,” is to carry on her mother’s legacy.

Born, married and beginning a family in mainland China, where the practice of religion was not permitted, her mother, Sun Tai, had one lifelong dream: “to obtain a Bible so that she could learn about God,” said Sister Ma.

That dream was realized when she and her husband arrived in Hong Kong, where the first thing she did was obtain a Bible and through it, was drawn to the Catholic faith, said the soft-spoken sister. {{more}}

After 12 years in Hong Kong, “in order to have a better future for their children, my father, Yim Kwai, and my mother immigrated to the United States under the sponsorship of relatives in New York,” Sister Ma said.

The youngest of five children, Christine, along with her two sisters and two brothers, grew up and was educated in New York City’s Chinatown.

She later went to Pace University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration. It was while she was using her skills as an accountant in a New York firm that she recalled a friend inviting her to join a group of young women who met regularly to pray together.

“It was there that I met Sister Thomasmari Gore, a Trinitarian sister who was a campus minister at New York University,” she explained. “She (Sister Gore) in turn, invited me to meet the sisters with whom she lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.”

Since the Trinitarian Sisters’ primary ministry is social work, they sponsored a Summer Family Life program at the congregation’s mission in Connecticut and invited the young woman to volunteer.

“Because I so enjoyed this experience, I volunteered the next year to work (again with the Trinitarians) as a computer lab teacher at St. Joseph Pro Cathedral in Camden, N.J.” Here she was offered the opportunity to make a mid-year retreat.

As is often the case with young women who enter the consecrated life, it was while she was making this retreat that she was asked, “Have you ever considered that God may be calling you to religious life?”

Her pursuit of the life of a Trinitarian included a year of discernment in Pensacola, Fla., where she lived and worked closely with the sisters in Catholic Social Services. Other years of living her temporary vows included parish ministry in Rock Hill, S.C., a prison, nursing home and school ministry in Kingston, Jamaica.

On March 25, 2010, the young woman who had traveled so far in such a short lifetime, professed perpetual vows as a Missionary Servant of the Blessed Trinity at the congregation’s motherhouse in Northeast Philadelphia.

Presently a full-time student in La Salle University’s Clinical Pastoral Care program, the humble sister is grateful for the dream of a mother, who no doubt believed in the God who first called her.

Sister Kathleen Leary,S.S.J., is the archdiocesan Coordinator for Vocations to Consecrated Life.