Encountering Christ's Merciful Love Through TEC

“Inquiring after God, seeking His face - that is the first and fundamental condition for the ascent that leads to the encounter with God” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Man is a continual longing--he is made to search for more until that destiny of his is fulfilled in the encounter with Jesus Christ. This concept of seeking out the One who loves me unconditionally was manifested by our beloved Pope John Paul II and brought to its fruition through the TEC program.

In 1999, as a freshman in high school and a teenager without the full knowledge and understanding of God’s role in my life, I had the privilege of attending the Papal Youth Rally in St. Louis, Mo. It was then that John Paul II said, “Christ is calling you. The Church needs you. The pope believes in you and he expects great things of you.” It had never entered my mind that God might desire me to be a religious sister. At the moment the Pope uttered his request for service, my heart burned with a longing to love and honor Christ and His Church. The presence of God and His calling, through the instrument of Christ’s vicar on earth, never left the recesses of my mind.

After the youth rally, my next logical conclusion was to grow deeper in love with Him who was calling me. I didn't want the flame of love to be put out because of my lack of interest and dedication in developing a relationship with Christ. The Great River TEC program in Quincy, Ill. was the fire that kept my flame continually burning as I sought the will of God throughout the years of my discernment. Although I truly thought that God was calling me, life brought many challenges along the way to stifle this voice. It was TEC that taught me to pray and be in relation with God; and in so doing, to find the person Christ created me to be--His friend, His handmaid, His beloved. TEC also helped form the friendships that taught me of the Merciful Love of Christ; who entrusted this same mission to me and what I in turn am called to entrust to all as a religious sister.

I carry on the mission and ministry of TEC by simply being who Christ ahs called me to be. Pope Benedict XVI continues from the above quote saying, “The ascent to God occurs precisely in the descent to humble service, in the descent of love, for love is God’s essence, and is thus the power that truly purifies man an enables him to perceive God and to see Him.” TEC has revealed to me the mystery of God’s love, the beauty of His call, and the power and grace to accept this invitation to serve and follow Him in humility and simplicity.

In 2003, I let my home in Hannibal, Mo. to enter the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Ill. A year later, I received the religious habit and the name Sr. Mary Clementia (which is Latin for mercy). In 2006, I professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, becoming a Spouse of Christ. For more information on my community, you can visit our website at

~ By Sr. Mary Clementia Toalson, FSGM, 24, Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, Alton, Ill.

God is Love

While I know that God has loved me since way before I can remember, my intentional loving of God in return really began my sophomore year of high school with my first retreat through Great River TEC in Quincy, Ill. I did not really know what to expect when I said yes, but I knew it was a time to get closer to God. That weekend was the first time that I was aware of God's presence in my life in such a real way. I have returned for nearly 15 TEC and MiniTEC weekends through at least four different centers to share that message of God's presence and love. In the meantime, I have continued to grow in God's love and the desire to share that love in loving others.

As the oldest of seven children, I have had the opportunity to share TEC with three of my younger brothers and sisters, and look forward to sharing the experience with the others as they get older. After very full years of high school and college, I graduated from Fontbonne University in St. Louis with my degree in special education. After college, I spent a year doing volunteer work teaching in a small Catholic school with a largely Hispanic population. I am currently teaching third grade within the Archdiocese of St. Louis and loving every minute of it. Never in my life have I been so aware of God in every minute of every day.

My current vocational endeavor can be summed up in the TEC cliché, “Let go and let God.” I am 24-years-old and in the process of joining the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis. I am in love in a most real, yet humbling and challenging way. With so many needs in our world and so many people to love, I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than in loving God and neighbor with an eager heart wide open to where God calling is me to serve. I won't say that I wouldn't be here without TEC because I know the persistence of God's call. But, I will say that TEC jump started what has become an awesome faith journey.

~ Sr. Sarah Heger, CSJ, 24, Novice, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis, Mo. (Spirit of St. Louis TEC, Archdiocese of St. Louis)