Starting when I was 14 years old, I had a
dreamed of adventure: to travel all around the world for
an entire year. I felt like I would do anything
to achieve my dream. By the time I was 18,
I figured I deserved it, given that I was pretty
far ahead in school for someone my age. "What
am I going to do in college when everyone else
is at least two or three years older than me?"
I asked myself.
My plans alternated between either taking a bicycle
tour across Europe, from Italy to Norway, or to travel
the Trans-Siberian railway across Russia, all the way to the
furthest border with China, then take a return route through
India, Arabia, Turkey and Greece until finally reaching Germany again.
Just as I was considering this, I came across something
totally new to me. A friend of mine invited
me to a gathering in Switzerland. There, in the
middle of the Alps, far from civilization, I came to
know a group of 120 young women who were upbeat,
funny, enthusiastic and healthy -- and who had given their
lives to Christ. And they were almost the same
age as me! I really could not believe my
eyes, because up until then I had never seen anything
like this, and I had always thought of the Church
as an outdated institution, boring, dusty, and utterly unattractive.
that most caught my attention about the consecrated women of
Regnum Christi was the spontaneity and intimacy with which they
spoke about Christ; it seemed that they spoke with Him
as if He were their best friend.
At the get
together in Switzerland, there was one girl, Ana, who was
not consecrated like the rest of them, but she was
giving a year of her life to God at the
service of the Church. Suddenly I realized that was exactly
what I was looking for! When I finished my
bachelor´s degree, I went to work a year for the
Church with the Regnum Christi in Chile. It was
the best year of my life, not only because I
was able to discover a whole new culture but also
because I was able to discover an entire world completely
unknown to me: the world of God; a life experienced
seen from the point of view of faith.
I had always
thought that I was a pretty good Catholic because out
of my whole class, there were only two of us
who went to mass, even if it was not every
Sunday. But I soon realized that my faith was
more protestant than Catholic: my mother had been protestant when
she was young, and my dad is still protestant to
this day. After that year that I spent in
Chile, I began to believe that Christ was really present
in the Eucharist and to understand that the Pope was
not the "bad guy" as the German media portrayed him.
returned home, began to study for a degree in "Industrial
Business Administration," and went on with my life as I
had always done: studying, working, and partying on the weekends,
with one difference: I could no longer have a conversation
that did not include, in some way or another, some
topic having to do with God.
During one of the
internships I did for my degree, I worked for two
months in the United Arab Emirates. I was completely
fascinated by this new culture, so different from the western
culture: the turbans, the mosques, the people.
After I finished my
degree, I was faced with a dilemma: "What am I
going to do with my life?" I liked my
job, but I could not imagine spending the rest of
my life sitting in an office. I needed challenges,
something that would take hold of me, something that was
not limited by office hours. The experience I lived
in Chile had left me with a great thirst, a
desire to devote myself body and soul to a mission.
I was faced with two options: to return to
Arabia for three years to establish a branch of my
company there, which only had one small office in the
Middle East staffed by two people, or...? The other
possibility was like a tender whispering in my heart: "Why
don´t you give me another chance? Why don´t you
give me one more year?
That first coworker year I had
received one grace after another from God, and I was
scarcely able to give him anything in return because I
did not know much about my faith, I did not
speak Spanish, and I did not really know Jesus Christ.
I was as drawn to the idea of Arabia
as to the possibility of giving another year of service.
I am not really sure what finally led me
to choose the latter, but all I know is that
one good day I found myself back in the Regnum
Christi center in Rome, where I was assigned for my
I felt like an "old rabbit," as we say
in Germany, meaning someone with enough experience to know all
the tricks of the trade. And that is exactly
how I wanted to begin my second year as a
coworker, calm and in control.
When I entered the chapel, the
second day after I arrived, I felt as if Christ
was speaking clearly to me from the sanctuary saying: "Johanna,
who are you giving this year for? For yourself
or for me?" It hit me like a cold
shower, because He was absolutely right. "Well ... I
wanted to give it to you," I responded only half-convinced,
because deep down, I had already made my own plans
without consulting him. "Then does that mean that from
now on you will accept whatever I ask of you?"
This was a rather compromising question, but I responded: "I
Everyday when I entered the chapel, Jesus Christ would
ask me to take one more step. This is
how Christ won me over. He loves you so
much and asks so much of you because if he
didn´t it would be indifference, the opposite of love.
One day I told him: "Jesus, what do you want
of me? Why do you love me so much?
Please tell me! Tell me what vocation you
have in mind for me. You know that I
can no longer say no to you, just please tell
He chose to tell me by means of Saint
Terese of the Child Jesus, who since then has been
the patroness of my vocation. On Christmas day, I
told my best friend what had been going on with
me and she said: "I have this marvelous novena to
Saint Terese. Let´s both pray it starting on the
first of January, you from Rome, and I here in
Germany, so that you might see clearly what the right
path is for you." And just that same day,
another person had given me a saint card of Saint
Terese. I saw it as a sign. It
could not have been a mere coincidence!
The last day of
the novena, which was also the first day of my
spiritual exercises, upon entering the chapel and looking to the
Sanctuary, I felt the certainty that God was calling me
to follow him by consecrating my whole life to him
in Regnum Christi. I did not hesitate to say
yes to him, because I was certain that God had
created my heart, and He knows better than anyone who
and what could fill it and make it completely happy.
I have been more and more convinced of this
with every passing day. Never did I imagine that
my heart could be so fulfilled, so happy, and so
full of that peace "which the world cannot give."
Siemens was born on July 16, 1976 in Munich, Germany.
She has a degree in Industrial Business Administration.
She studied Education and Development and majored in Religious Sciences
at the center of formation run by International Educators in
Madrid, Spain and in Monterrey, Mexico. She currently works
as the dean of discipline at a school in Guadalajara,