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.
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 the conversation usually ended with some kind of creative rebuttal from my part and compassionate acquiescence from the priest.
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 the Consecrated Life, for at that time 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 with me.
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 of discovery that peaked my curiosity, but I still didn’t think that Consecration was for me. In the meantime, I soaked in the countless opportunities for human, spiritual and intellectual formation offered at St. Mary’s. I attended Intro Theology classes with one of the Campus Ministers, Theology of the Body courses and group discussions, evening classes on Moral Theology and Stump the Priest events (with Fr. Michael, LC). There I was able to finally begin to scratch the surface of why the Church teaches what she teaches and to love Her, the Bride of Christ, all the more for that. Most importantly, I was offered the chance to be with the Lord in silence, in song, in the sacraments and in communion with all the other students who thirsted for Him. It was in growing in relationship with Christ that my desire to learn more about Consecrated Life, in a serious way, began to peak.
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 in June of 2015.
My desire is to show those whom I meet that truth is not something we can define for ourselves, but rather Truth is a person, a person who loves us and sets us free.