Sr. Erika-Mária Bukovics

Born in Romania in 1983, trained and worked as a nurse in Germany, since 2018 responsible for the first establishment of the Institute in Romania, at the same time working with youth in the diocese of Timisoara. Belongs to the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

I come from a good Catholic family. I learned a lot from my parents, especially that we do not live for ourselves, but that there is nothing more beautiful than to share with others what the dear God has given us, be it our money, food, time, neighborly help? We were not a rich family, but there was always something that we could do to bring joy to others. In addition, the daily evening prayer was also part of our family life. This gave us strength for the challenges of everyday life.
Even as a child, Mary, the Blessed Mother, was the woman I looked up to. I was always very fascinated by her life: What a tender woman she was and at the same time: how much perseverance and strength she possessed. Her strength did not lie in exterior strength, but much more in her heart, with which she generously gave to others. As a child I liked to kneel before the statue of the Blessed Mother and contemplate her greatness, beauty and simplicity.
At the same time, I discovered some important features in her, such as true motherliness and selfless service, as I also experienced with my mother, who was very attached to the Blessed Mother. This motivated me to look more and more to the Blessed Mother and to live my life accordingly.
My development as a woman and my being a woman today is very much influenced by my family, by my mother and by the Blessed Mother.
What has also formed me are the people that I meet with. For example, in Romania I often meet people who are very poor. Once, when I wanted to give a man some money and a MTA picture in return for his good deed, he pointed out that although he is poor, he can live with his poverty, so he does not want to receive money from me. But he was very happy about the picture of the Mother of God. That impressed me deeply. I became newly aware: Yes, through the Blessed Mother, even if we are poor, we are very rich inwardly, and no one can take this wealth from us, we never lose this wealth.

Where have you experienced God in your life?

I have experienced God through the religious life in my family, in the Sisters’ Family and in every place where God has placed me.
During the time I worked as a nurse, I experienced God’s help very often. For example, I was on night duty and there was a lot going on in the ward. I was already wondering how I could cope with all of that. I asked God and the Blessed Mother to take everything in hand, because it was impossible to manage everything, and in addition I got some new admissions. A few minutes later the phone rang. A colleague from another ward called and said that it was quiet on her ward at the moment, and asked if she could help me. This is one of countless examples in my life. God does not leave us alone. He sees our needs and concerns and wants to be present in our lives.

Even now, in my current work in Romania, I often experience the closeness of God. For example, when we moved into a rented apartment here, there was still a lot of work. I had no clue about many maintenance jobs. After a Mass with the youth I had a conversation with a young man who had no work and suffered a lot. God sent us this young man to help us. We promised him that we would pray that he would get a good job. Just when we finished the renovation after a few months, he told us with a beaming heart that he had gotten a job. Because of the great helpfulness of the people here I feel that God is taking care of us. It always impresses me, especially with young people who are poor, that they give their last bit of money so that the other poor people can have a better life. I often think of the poor widow, of whom the Bible says that she gave everything. In such people I encounter God, who gives everything – himself – for us.

What do you see as the challenges for women today?

I believe that in order for us women to make our mark on the world today, it is not primarily a question of how much external power we have been given, but above all of whether we are really real women who can still SERVE and are aware of their dignity. In my opinion, this attitude is often missing in our society. The word “SERVICE” is often presented as weak subordination, but that is not it. For me to SERVE means to embody an essential trait of woman – to be wholly woman in the awareness of her own dignity and strength. A woman can only SERVE if she is aware of her dignity and her possibilities, but also if she is able to be of service to other people or for a better society, even at the cost of sacrifice. Besides the Blessed Mother, our founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, who tirelessly served God in people, is a great example for me.

What do you want to change in this world through your life?

I desire for myself and for all the women of the world that we discover the riches that made the Blessed Mother such a strong and influential woman, and that we can shape our world and transform it positively through our authentic womanhood. Like Mary, we should not be afraid to SERVE God and man. I have experienced again and again in my life what a strong influence this has. We are in demand; let us follow the path that Mary exemplifies to us in her womanhood, the path of a genuine woman!