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Joy can exist amid suffering, says vocations speaker

Sister Olga Yaqob speaks Nov. 8 at the Old Statehouse in Boston. Her address was the third installment of the “Christ Speaks in the City” speaker series organized by the archdiocese’s Vocations Office. Pilot photo/Christine Williams

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BOSTON -- Joy, rooted in Jesus Christ, can exist even in the face of suffering, attested Sister Olga Yaqob, an Iraqi nun and hermit in the Archdiocese of Boston. Although Sister Olga has experienced war, separation from family and challenges in following her religious vocation, she has great joy, she said.

“Yes, I have suffered a lot in my life, but I am a very joyful person,” she said. “I am going to share that joy with you.”

Her reflections on Nov. 8 were part of the third installment of a four-part speaker series entitled “Christ Speaks in the City.” The lunchtime series, organized by the archdiocesan Vocations Office, is held each month at the Old Statehouse. The final speaker will be Father Darin Colarusso, a newly ordained archdiocesan priest and former United States Air Force navigator, on Dec. 13 at noon.

As a little girl in Iraq, Sister Olga experienced God calling her to become a consecrated religious sister. But she and her family were members of the Assyrian Church of the East, which had not had a religious community for women in 700 years, she said.

At 14 years old she visited a local Roman Catholic church for daily Mass and saw religious women for the first time and knew God was calling her to that vocation. Her family would not allow her to join the convent, and her father sent her to college, hoping she would find a husband there.

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