vocation stories | BRIANA

My name is Briana Santiago

I was born in San Antonio, Texas on June 6th 1991. 

I graduated in 2013 from Texas A&M University with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Italian.

I tend toward being a very active/task-oriented person, so to balance that out my hobbies are relaxing things like reading, playing music, or talking with friends. I do love the outdoors, but prefer to enjoy it resting under the shade of a tall tree.

Vocation Story

My parents were very close friends with our parish priest, so much so that he was present at almost all of our family gatherings. I remember that he would look at me and say “Briana, you will either become a nun, or marry Matthew,” who was my childhood best friend. My response was always negative, and sometimes a creative rebuttal such as “Eww, I would never dress like a penguin!” This of course was a response from my younger, less-informed years (though I suppose that I at least knew some nuns wore black and white).

I dated in High School and I always wondered why I was never satisfied, but I did not receive more clarity on that front until I went off to college. St. Mary’s, the Catholic Church closest to A&M’s campus, was singlehanded the most fruitful atmosphere of my entire college experience.

It was there that I fell in love with the Lord through daily mass, there that I met my best friends, and it was there that I met the Apostles. I found an Italian sister who was just as quick and curly-haired as I was, and my journey of Spiritual Direction began. Never once did I ask about Religious Life, for I was only interested in fixing my relationships and finding my husband!

In fact I remember Sr. Raffaella asking me once “Briana, are you praying?” to which I replied “No, but Sister, that isn’t the point.” I will always be grateful for her patience.

There are many religious communities that come to visit St. Mary’s, so I was able to meet some of these sisters and ask them questions about how they could give up everything and follow Jesus. It was a beautiful time, but I still didn’t think it was for me. During my sophomore year, a religious community invited me on a discernment retreat. I had never heard of this kind of thing, but I had also never flown, so I thought it was a pretty good excuse for a trip in which I could fly and meet some cool people. I was so captivated by the Lord on this retreat that I applied to and was accepted by this community…and then I emailed my spiritual director. After much prayer and reflection of my general impulsiveness, I decided to not enter that August and to continue school at A&M. It was after this crazy summer that I was able to start the actual process of discernment of my vocation, instead of just assuming I knew everything after a 48-hour retreat. I learned a lot those last two years of college, about myself and about the Lord.

I went on a Nun-Run the summer before my Senior year, and I was able to visit with many communities; I even kept in touch with a few of them and discerned with one for a little over a year. Every scenario I brought to prayer in regards to other communities was beautiful, but the Lord kept bringing me back to the Apostles. Within their Charism is where my heart felt at rest, and so after I graduated from Texas A&M I moved to Kansas to work and continue discernment. This eventually led me to apply and be accepted into the community on February 28th, 2014.

I heard the Apostles for the first time at a music ministry open house at St. Mary’s, at the beginning of which they sang three beautiful Italian songs (with 3-part harmonies of course).

My first impression I wanted to meet them not because they were sisters, but because I really wanted them to teach me how to sing/play those songs!

I began my experience in the community in College Station, Texas in August of 2014 and moved to Rome for formation in May 2015.

My desire is to show those whom I meet that truth is not something we can define for ourselves, but rather that Truth is a person, a person who loves and sets us free.