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Pilot, nun, teacher, wife: A woman shares her winding path of discernment

Ex piloto e freira

Cortesia / Crislane Costa Viana

Ricardo Sanches - published on 05/15/23

A story of chasing dreams and discovering a vocation.

Crislane Costa Viana, “Cris,” is 30 years old. Born in Caturaí, Goiás (a state in central Brazil), when she was still very young she started helping her parents work in the fields. It was in this rural setting that she took her first steps in the faith. She traveled miles and miles by cart to go to catechism classes and Mass. She made her First Communion and Confirmation, but, as she herself says, she was “Catholic only in name and by Baptism.”

Already as a child, she dreamed big. Her dreams led her to study aeronautics. Despite financial difficulties, she managed to complete the course that trains pilots for civil aviation.

The same financial difficulties prevented the recent graduate from completing the mandatory flight hours to work in civil aviation. “As I couldn’t get the money and my parents couldn’t afford it, I started to think that it wasn’t what God wanted for my life and I began to look at other possibilities,” explains Crislane.

Crislane pilotando um avião
Crislane’s first dream: to fly!

From college to the convent

While still in college, Crislane became interested in religious life. One year after graduating, and with her private pilot’s license in hand, she decided to abandon her career and join the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Divine Mercy in Goiás.

Her parents did not accept the decision. “I told my mother that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a sister, but at that moment I was sure I needed to experiment and understand the restlessness I had inside me,” reveals Crislane.

The young woman stayed in the convent for three years, until she finished the canonical novitiate. “At the end of the third year, I discerned that my place was not there. If I wanted to, I could live there until I died, but I wouldn’t be happy. So I decided to leave,” she says.

And it was in the convent that Crislane learned a key lesson she carries with her through life: “In the convent I experienced mercy. I learned, indeed, that God wants His children to be close to Him. We are sinners and, despite our falls, God loves us,” she summarizes.

Crislane Santos Viana no Convento
In the convent, Crislane learned that “God wants his children near Him.”

Rosaries for brides

Having left her career and the convent, Cris felt lost in the world. “And now, what am I going to do?” she thought.

But Providence was showing her the path to follow, and she started doing a little bit of everything to get by: She worked as a market vendor, helped in a restaurant, was an app driver, and started selling handmade and personalized rosaries for brides.

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A post shared by Crislane Costa (@cris.costa03)

She sold the rosaries on the internet and in religious communities she knew. Her craftsmanship paid off! The sale of the rosaries paid her bills for a long time and made it possible for her to go to college to study to be a teacher.

Still a recent graduate from the program, Cris was chosen from a group of candidates for a teaching position, and today teaches at a kindergarten.

Crislane dos Santos como professora
The teacher “Auntie Cris”

The “improbable” happened

Before that, however, something happened that Crislane had thought highly improbable.

One day she received an invitation to accompany a friend to a forró, a type of dance she had never attended before. It was there that she met Rodrigo, who had also never been to an event like this. They started dating and soon got married.

“Meeting Rodrigo, my husband, was something from God, because for me getting married was unlikely at that time,” she confesses.


When she talked to Aleteia, Cris was nine months pregnant, awaiting the arrival of Isis, her first daughter. She was sitting in the room she and her husband had prepared for the baby who was about to arrive, under a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The teacher, who once worked in the fields, graduated in aeronautics, and spent three years in the convent, concludes: “On a personal level, my vocation is the family, because wherever I am, my goal today is to be the best mother and the best wife, according to God’s will.”

Cris adds, “I am limited, yes, but God is not. And I know that he will give me all the grace I need to fulfill this mission.”

Vocation: Faith and docility

Cris confesses that vocational discernment may be difficult for many people, as it was for her: “My decisions did involve suffering. For me, giving up was synonymous with failure, a feeling that nothing was going right in life. I think that many people who haven’t yet discovered their vocation feel the way I did.”

And, for these people, Crislane has some advice: “The key word is docility, to let yourself be led. We need to have our minds and hearts open to divine inspiration. So, for people who feel frustrated and incapable due to not achieving something they dreamed of, I would tell them to keep their mind and heart open for God to lead them, because he leads. Having the courage to follow these inspirations, you can find the way. This is what a vocation is: God speaks, and we listen and follow the direction he suggests.

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