Sr. M. Renata Kurc, born in 1971 in Opeln (Poland); she connects her two professions theologian/ catechist and confectioner: she produces cookies with a religious message in it; after several years of working for the branches of the Schoenstatt Girl’s Youth and Families she is now working in the kitchen management of the sister’s province house in Swider (Poland); member of the secular institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary since 2001.
My first experience that formed me as a woman was my mother, how I experienced her as a woman and in her educational influence on me as a daughter. My mother gave me life practice, I learned from her simple rules of life and tasks that a woman needs in her daily life. She taught me by her own example what it means to be a woman: by the way she lived her relationship with God, with her husband – my father -, with the other members of the family and other people.
The second person who influenced me in the development of my womanhood was Mary. She was present in my life, on my path of faith. Initially I belonged to a “Marian Apostles” group. Afterward I myself led girls’ groups. It was a deeply formative experience for me to get to know Mary and her attitude and to share this experience with my younger group members.
The encounter with the Sisters of Mary on my life’s path was also important. They radiated Our Lady in a pleasant way and inspired me to imitate her.
The first personal experience that I remember, which inspired me to develop my womanhood more consciously, was the decision for my career. I was 14 years old when a Sister of Mary in our youth group asked what kind of profession we wanted to choose. When I said that I wanted to become a pastry chef, the sister confirmed that it was a beautiful profession for a woman. This was an impulse for me to be more aware of what it meant for me to be a woman.
God has been close to me all my life. When I asked Him to show me what the right choice of my profession and vocation could be, He led me to see what was best for me. I discovered my place in the Church and in the community of the Sisters of Mary. I wanted to have a profession that would also be useful in a consecrated life, and here I have it! I am a professional pastry chef. My co-sisters describe the apostolate that I am thus able to carry out with the words: “With Mary through the stomach to the human heart.”
God led me on the path of my vocation. When I was young, I had a great hunger for God and wanted to know Him more deeply. That is why I studied theology. The knowledge I acquired opened me to God, to His love, and formed in me the desire to be close to Him, to share Him with others and to walk the path of His love. In order to be able to communicate the love of God, I trained as a catechist. When I still had too little courage to fully commit myself to the path of my actual vocation, I found this path in God and experienced his grace: I was able to decide completely for the path of a Sister of Mary. When I, already as a Sister of Mary, included the theater in my apostolic work with young people, I asked God for good actors. I experienced His closeness: He sent them to me. I asked Him that my parents could still experience their Golden Wedding together. In the meantime, they have celebrated it. I have had many experiences of his closeness.
On the path of my vocation in the Covenant of Love with Mary, I see the tangible effectiveness of Divine Providence, also through the Blessed Mother. In the apostolate with the Girls’ Youth, with families, but also as a Sister, I repeatedly experience that the loving God is close to me. He accompanies me, sends me His Spirit through good inspirations, and gives me good thoughts in shaping my own personality and that of others. He gives me ideas and so I can creatively shape reality. I feel that He lives in me and increasingly becomes my life. I experience myself as needed by him and the Blessed Mother. They send me to pass on their strength and joy. I am strengthened inwardly by the experience of being heard in my prayers, for example, where it is a matter of saving a sacramental marriage. These experiences give me the inner conviction that there is great strength in faith, and that I can be optimistic, full of hope, and apostolically effective.
In my opinion, the challenge for women today is to find their identity as women, to rediscover who and what a woman should be. It is important that the woman finds the way back to her lost sense of self. This awakens again in the relationship with Mary. Through her, the woman can rediscover God’s plan for herself, the realization of which, in service to God, to humanity, to society and to the Church, will make her happy. It seems to me that the modern woman should give up competition and rivalry with men and discover her feminine contribution to service, motherhood and the building of the modern world through her warm love. In my opinion, self-esteem is also important so that she can live her life with dignity, according to her personal calling and place in the world.
My greatest longing is that people love God and Mary, that they love one another, and that they can forgive and be happy. Therefore, wherever I am, I want to open hearts to God through serving love. Through my behavior, through an inspiring word, I want to connect people with each other. Through my joyful, enthusiastic attitude of faith and trust in the Blessed Mother, I want to show that it is worthwhile to live for God, that it is worthwhile to make sacrifices for others in order to convince them of higher values. I want people to get to know our Founder and find in him a spiritual guide on the winding paths of our time. I want people to find in our Shrine a place where they feel at home, that they see in Mary a model of life, and discover in the Covenant of Love a way of education – a program of evangelization to change themselves and the world.