First Professions Celebrated
This year the Feast of the Immaculate Conception happened to fall on a Sunday. Divine providence? Perhaps. It certainly seemed like it for all of us who were filled with anticipation of the First Profession of three of our novices. How fitting to welcome three new professed sisters to our community on a Sunday…
Mother Nature blessed us with a gloriously sunny, though very cold day, which made travel for all who came from near and far to celebrate with us, easy. After busy weeks of planning, preparation and many hours of fine tuning of the liturgy, the long awaited day had finally arrived. The sisters and the many invited guests filled our beautifully decorated chapel, spilling over into the foyer and sacristy. ‘Let the celebration begin’ I excitedly whispered to my neighbour. And begin we did, as the first sounds of the organ filled the chapel, our lovely young sisters, newly clad in black habits, processed down the aisle.
The warm welcome by Sr. Mary William, our provincial, set the tone for this glorious Eucharist. The readings and homily prepared us for the moment when the three sisters approached the altar to proclaim their vows. A hush filled the chapel as each pronounced her vows with conviction. Their clear young voices echoed through the chapel and our hearts. Filled with pride and joy we celebrated the Eucharist together, beautifully enhanced by the blend of the music of the key board, percussion and guitar. The Korean youth choir from a nearby parish filled the chapel with their singing as we approached the altar to receive Communion.
One special moment after another unfolded during this entire celebration, and culminated in all the women religious being invited to the front of the chapel by Fr. Ian, our chaplain. Sisters from various other congregations and our community surrounded our three ‘new’ sisters and with outstretched arms blessed them. This was an incredibly moving moment, of solidarity, of love, of prayer, of pride and unity. It was a fitting conclusion of this very special celebration of the First Profession of our sisters.
(Sr. Magdalena Vogt, cps)
Sharing this memorable day with us was young Amanda Achtman, who eloquently described her experience of this joyous occasion in the following words.
The context in which I attended the First Profession of three Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood was upon my recent return from a conference in Europe. The conference theme was Christianity and secularism across Europe and America. In a world that seems so consumed by materialism, relativism, and secularism, it was quite the dramatic juxtaposition to return to Canada and witness the First Profession of Sr. Marie Lucia Yeon, Sr. Mathilde Maria van Impelen, and Sr. Liesbeth Maria Hallegraefff. These women, “joyful, valiant women”, were both being chosen and choosing to be a sign of contradiction against the conventions of society. And on that December 8th, which was also the Second Sunday of Advent, their witness helped to illuminate a meditation of Karol Wojtyla (Bl. JPII) in which he says: “Might not these words be a distinctive definition of Christ and his Church? ‘The sign of contradiction’… May this light give us strength and make us capable of accepting and loving the whole truth of Christ, of loving it all the more as the world all the more contradicts it.” I am thankful for those who testify by their lives to the truthful paradox of joy-filled surrender to Christ.
(Amanda Achtman, resident of Stella Maris residence, Toronto)