Sister Johnnette Brocato
Even before we can explain things to ourselves, our heart knows! Looking back at my life I know that to be true, because until I answered God’s call, I did not find peace and a sense of true happiness. My answer to God’s call to follow him by being of service in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows was and still is a challenge at times, but also a guarantee of His love and His faithfulness to me.
I’m the oldest of a set of twins born after four other girls. I lost my mother when I was 11 months old and my father meant the world to me. He sacrificed a lot so that we all could attend Catholic schools and receive a good education along with being taught faith values. Being a family was very important to me, and I greatly enjoyed those times when we were together. Leaving my family to follow God’s call was difficult for me, but I was consoled by the fact that God gave me another family in my community of sisters. These women, though not bonded by blood, love each other and care for each other.
I was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. After attending St. John’s Berchman grade school for a couple of years, I transferred to Holy Rosary, a school staffed by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is there that I met the sisters who inspired me with their joviality and dedication to children and to the parish. I wanted to help others, and they gave me the example. After I completed high school at St. Vincent’s Academy, I told my dad and family that I wanted to become a sister. My daddy did not oppose me, even though it was hard for him to see me go. His only words to me were: “Whatever you choose, sugar, be happy and faithful to it.” Those words come back to mind very often, especially now that he is no longer with me.
After earning a degree in education, I taught in elementary schools for four years before I was asked to work with people with developmental disabilities. I never realized how that ministry responded to my deepest need to be for others! The simplicity and the genuineness of the children at St. Mary’s won me over and touched my heart. I was very comfortable around them and they brought out the best in me.
I’m still working with adults with developmental disabilities at Our Lady of Sorrows Community Homes in Alexandria, and after many years of working with them, I find great fulfillment and peace in their midst. I thank God every day for having blessed me with his graces to serve Him by caring for God’s special children.
Everything speaks to us of Him, because we bear Him within us, and our lives are a foretaste of paradise.
Blessed Elisabetta Renzi