The story of my American citizenship process was somewhat complicated but also full of hope.
Becoming a U.S. citizen was not part of my dreams in my younger years. All I desired was to be a sister, so I could get closer to God and his people.
My parents are active members of the Catholic Church in my birthplace of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Their prayer life influenced my growth as a Catholic. As a young adult, I realized that God was calling me to serve him and after my graduation from college, I focused on discerning my vocation in life.
I grew up in Denver Colorado in a pious Catholic family, the middle of three children. Both of my parents considered the possibility of entering religious life when they were young people, so the thought of a priestly or religious vocation for us children was always present alongside that of the married state. I attended the parish school, and then went on to an all-boys Catholic preparatory school run by the Jesuit Fathers. It was there that I first met religious order priests, and it was there in high school that I first seriously considered becoming a priest and a religious myself.
The reasons for which I became a Franciscan Minor Brother are rooted in my childhood.
In the 1960’s, when television entered our home for the first time, I was introduced to the outside world. Specifically, documentaries showed me images of children suffering from malnourishment. Being from a poor, Spanish farming family of 13 brothers and sisters, I immediately identified with the extreme poverty, suffering, and malnutrition of those children. I remember telling my mom: “mom, I want to do something for them.”
Rita Dhakal joined the Religious Immigration Section of CLINIC in June 2009. She currently works with Attorney Megan Turngren to help to provide legal services to RIS clients. In addition, Rita volunteers with Legal Services of Northern Virginia, where she interviews clients for case intake and placement for the Uncontested Divorce Clinic.
I am Sister Delia Obenza, O.P., a full member of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines. I am currently assigned as the Director of Religious Education Program at Holy Angels Church in Colma, California. I am also the regional secretary of the Hawaii region.