Sister Marita N. Capili made first profession of vows as a Sister of Providence in a Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, Sept. 22, in the chapel at Mount St. Joseph, Spokane, followed by a reception. In lieu of gifts, she asked for donations to the Sisters of Providence mission in El Salvador, where she recently spent seven months for a cross-cultural experience.
It was not her first experience of a foreign mission to the poor in another part of the world, but it was her first in connection with the religious community. Several years ago, while working as a junior executive for an international hotel chain, she spent six days with orphans in Haiti on a pilgrimage for the Food for the Poor program.
She knows today what she did not realize then; that God was calling her to a life of service to the poor, particularly to children. “Sister Marita has had many experiences throughout her life, and all have led her to be where she is today, offering her life in service of others because she is impelled to do so by God’s love,” said Provincial Superior Judith Desmarais, SP.
“Her life-changing experience in Haiti marked her, causing her to evaluate her life and change direction to follow God’s call. We are grateful to God for calling Sister Marita to the Sisters of Providence to share God’s love and compassion with those who are vulnerable and most in need.”
One of eight children
Marita Capili was one of eight children born to a poor family in the Philippines. As a teenager, she moved with family members to Guam, where she attended high school and college, earning an associate’s degree in hotel management. For three years she worked for Hyatt International Hotels as a front-desk agent, and then began advancing into higher-level positions at hotels in places including the Chicago area, Egypt, Saipan, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Through it all, the 10- to 12-hours days and the world travel, she was restless. In June 2000, tired of it all, she spent six months in San Diego, earning certification as a Microsoft system engineer. After a few months working for a Seattle company that offers hotel software for guest recognition, she returned to what was familiar, becoming assistant front-office manager in a Los Angeles hotel. Next, she became reservation manager of the Hyatt in downtown Seattle and then revenue manager for two Seattle Hyatt hotels.
Things changed when Marita heard God’s call clearly and began exploring whether she had a call to religious life. She found the answer through discussions with a pastor and an ad for the Sisters of Providence in a national magazine for people discerning a call to religious life. Contacts with the religious community led her to seek immediate entrance, but instead she began a period of discernment that led to her request to become a candidate a year later.
Faced the skepticism of friends and family
As a candidate, she moved to Spokane and became involved in ministries including as a volunteer at Women’s Hearth, at Ronald McDonald House and at Mount St. Joseph. She also participated in RCIA on Sundays. Friends and family were skeptical at first, wondering why a woman who was successfully climbing the corporate ladder would abandon a promising career.
Co-workers didn’t quite know what to think, she said. Eventually, they came around when they realized that she was sincere and determined.
She entered the religious community two years ago in a ceremony at the novitiate house in Spokane. Father Severyn J. Westbrook was the presider for the first-vow ceremony on September 22. Marita designed the programs and invitations that bore a multi-colored flame and the theme, “Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21-22.
“The greatest gift this has given me is to be open to my true self, to what really gives me purpose,” Marita said. “I find that I need that as I grow older; to discover the passion and treasure within myself. It is a gift that God already has given me, that I am capable of loving and giving, capable of receiving, and that I can’t do anything without Christ.”
In January, Sister Marita will travel to San Antonio, Texas, for a monthlong mission discernment experience. Preparation for Missionaries is offered once a year by Intercultural Consultation Services.
The program focuses on the specifics of discernment, assessment and preparation for intercultural living and ministry. Its goals are to help participants “gain necessary information to deepen their self-knowledge and discern and assess their call to a different ministry or cross-cultural ministry,” and to empower them “to share their gifts, struggles, vision and charism in preparation for cross-cultural living.”