BC’s Sister Misty vows lifetime of service
Cutline1: Bridge City native Sister Misty Garriga listens as Sister Pearl Ceasar, Superior General of the Congregation of Sisters of Divine Providence, speaks at St. Henry Catholic Church Saturday, May 12. (Photo: Faye Dismukes)
Photo: Sister Misty Garriga is silhouetted in front of the altar at St. Henry Catholic Church during her Profession of Vows to become a nun Saturday May 12 in Bridge City.
(Photo: Faye Dismukes)
Cutline 4: Sister Misty Garriga, wearing a flowered top front and center, poses with members of the Congregation of Divine Providence after Garriga’s Profession of Vows at Bridge City’s St. Henry Catholic Church Saturday May 12. (Photo: Faye Dismukes)
Cutline 5: Sister Pearl Ceasar and Father Steve Leger guide Bridge City native Misty Garriga, center, through her Profession of Perpetual Vows to join the Sisters of Divine Providence Saturday at St. Helen Catholic Church. (Photo: Faye Dismukes)
For The Record
For 15 years after graduating from Bridge City High School in 1996, Misty Garriga worked at being the best middle and high school math teacher in Mauriceville, Bridge City and Round Rock.
Then she settled on how she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
And when she shared the news with her parents — Lou and Kathy Garriga – and her five brothers and sisters – Rene, John, Theresa, Kevin and Greg – no one was surprised when she said she planned to become a nun.
“Their response was, ‘What took you so long? We all knew you would be a nun,’” Misty said.
After another seven years of preparation, that destiny was fulfilled Saturday May 12 at Bridge City’s St. Henry Catholic Church where she made her Perpetual Profession of Vows to the Congregation of Divine Providence and became Sister Misty.
About 250 friends and family attended the service conducted by Father Steve Leger of St. Henry and Sister Pearl Ceasar, Superior General of the San Antonio-based CDP.
Among those attending were about 40 nuns on a bus from San Antonio and Misty’s family, headed by her father.
Lou Garriga was making his first trip to his home church since last November, when he spent eight days on a ventilator.
“We weren’t sure he was going to make it,” Misty said.
Her father, bedridden since November, was able to be transported from an Orange group home and attend
Saturday’s ceremony in a wheelchair.
“He told me, ‘I was there for the other five kids’ weddings. I’ll be there for your vows,’” Sister Misty said.
“I feel that God has kept him here to see this day.”
The newest nun says she can’t remember when she wasn’t involved in the Catholic Church and its ministry.
“I was a good Catholic girl who literally lived right around the corner [from St. Henry] and I did a lot of parish work here, beginning in seventh grade,” Sister Misty said.
“I’ve always been involved in ministry. Dad always instilled in us the need to help others and Mom was the one who instilled the prayer side.
“As I was working here through high school and especially during college, I found great joy in ministry.”
Sister Misty has been working as director of religious education at a parish in San Antonio and she recently earned a master’s degree in spirituality from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
She will be moving back to Southeast Texas in July, when she’ll go to work for the Diocese of Beaumont. She will serve Orange County and Mid-Jefferson County as a coordinator for religious education.
She explained the how-to’s of becoming a nun, at least her experience.
“After college, I did the ‘normal’ thing: I dated, had a career and lived on my own, everything I thought was supposed to make me happy,” Sister Misty said.
“In time, I realized the relationship I was searching for was a community of sisters that had the same desires and commitment to serve others. So, I began searching for a community in 2010.
She explained the terms “community,” “order” and “congregation” are interchangeable to refer to the many groups of like-minded nuns working to meet a specific need.
Her search for a community wasn’t unlike choosing a college, she said.
“Each congregation has its own unique spirit,” Sister Misty said. “Like each person has a personality you’re attracted to, a community has its own spirit.”
The Congregation of Divine Providence was started in France in the 1700s and arrived in Texas in 1866 with the mission of starting schools in the new state. The nuns opened a school in San Antonio in 1895 that grew to become Our Lady of the Lake College in 1919.
There are currently about 130 sisters in CDP, Sister Misty said.
“We live out the spirit of abandonment to Divine Providence and trusting that God will provide,” she said.
“When I found this group of sisters I did not have to change who I was. I felt it was a place I could call home, where I could become the woman I was called to be.”
In 2011, Sister Misty taught during the day at Providence school in San Antonio, but spent half a year as a CDP “affiliate,” keeping her own place but getting to know the other sisters.
She was a “pre-novice” the other half of the year, still teaching and driving her car but now living in the “Main Mother House” with a nun for a roommate.
“The goal is to learn to live in the community,” she said, ”getting to know the community and them getting to know me.”
Her second and third years were spent as a “novitiate,” also called novice.
She abandoned her job and car and moved full-time into the convent and learned the details.
“It’s not like two years of school,” she said, “but a time of intense study of congregation life.”
She made her first annual profession of vows in 2014 and repeated those vows each year through 2017.
Sister Misty was on the back side of her 30s when she took her final vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience as a Sister of Divine Providence last Saturday.
She turns 40 in June.
“Forty is such a milestone. I wanted to get it before I was 40, and I have. I’ve found my path in life,” she said.